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Animal Imagery in Macbeth

            In the play, "Macbeth," animal imagery is an important device used to bring light to change. For example, the chain of being is mentioned many times throughout the play, and is used to emphasize the rising action reaching the climax. In the first battle, when the soldier is explaining the outcome of the attack, he introduces the concept for the first time. When the King asks if Macbeth and Banquo were daunted by the second ambush, the Captain replies "as sparrows eagles or the hare the lion" (I, ii, 37). He states that they are as afraid of the attack as a sparrow would frighten an eagle, or a hare would a lion, meaning that they remained confident. This line first proposes the chain of being to the audience, and a couple scenes later, it is brought up again. After Macbeth kills Duncan, there is a lot of pathetic fallacy used through animal imagery. The Old Man has a conversation with Ross about the weather, wherein he brings up the chain of being by saying "'Tis unnatural/.
             Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last/ A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place/ Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed" (II,iv, 11). In the chain of being, a falcon would be near the top in the chain, whereas a mousing owl would reside near the middle or bottom. If the owl were to kill the falcon, it would signify a break in the chain, which is what has occurred due to Macbeth, who is only a Thane, killing Duncan, a King. A break in the chain would produce chaos, which is exactly what will happen. These two quotes are contrasting, emphasizing the change that will occur due to Macbeth breaking the chain. They also indicate that the play is reaching its climax, and therefore furthering the plot. Animal imagery can also be used to pinpoint character development. In Act 1 Scene 7, Lady Macbeth uses animal imagery to stop her husband from having cold feet about murder. She mocks him by saying "live a coward in thine own esteem/ Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would"/ Like the poor cat i' th' adage?" (I,vii, 42).

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