Kingship Motif

What does IV.iii add to the kingship motif? What does it mean to be a true king?

Prior to Act 4 Scene 3, there have been many examples of the kingship motif.  In Act 1, Scenes 4 and 6, we recognized that Macbeth and Duncan are portraying words of true kingship. Act 4 Scene 3 continues with this motif of kingship.  Within this scene, Malcolm and Macduff are talking, yet Malcolm does not trust Macduff.  As a result, to determine whether Macduff is trustworthy, Malcolm lies about his “vices” or immortalities.  He continues by saying that he feels like he is not fit to be king.  At first, Macduff disagrees and encourages him that he is in fact very fit to be future king of Scotland, but as Malcolm continues, Macduff changes his mind.  Macduff, only wanting the best for Scotland, realizes that Malcolm is definitely not fit to rule or even to live.  Finally, Malcolm tells him the truth and they become allies.  This scene shows that both Malcolm and Macduff share the virtue of true kingship.  They both love their country Scotland very deeply.  This unites them to become allies and form a strong army set out to conquer Macbeth.  Macduff and Malcolm want only what is best for Scotland and they are willing to go through many troubles to achieve this.  As Malcolm tells Macduff the truth he states, “Macduff, this noble passion, / Child of integrity, hath from my soul / wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts/to thy good truth and honor” (Shakespeare 133-136).  Malcolm is describing Macduff with the exact qualities any king should have: passion, honesty, trustworthiness, and honor. Malcolm continues by saying, “Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure / the taints and blames I laid upon myself / for strangers to my nature” (Shakespeare 142-144).  Malcolm is taking back all of the vices, because he believes none of them are true.  The flaws he states previously are not part of his personality at all.  Lastly, Shakespeare writes, “What I am truly / is thine and my poor country’s to command” (Shakespeare 150-151).  This quote, spoken by Malcolm, shows that he is very confident.  Malcolm knows that he is very ready to serve his country.

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Natural vs. Unnatural

BLOG: What do you think Macbeth is suggesting about what’s natural and what’s unnatural? For a starting point, use the disruptions in nature in the final scenes of Act II; consider their implications, and any other ways in which you think the play has touched on natural versus unnatural.

In the final scenes of Act II, many of the occurrences that Shakespeare writes about questions what’s to be considered national and unnatural.  Ross says, “thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act, threatens his bloody stage.  By th’ clock ‘tis day, and yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp.  Is ‘t night’s predominance or the day’s shame that darkness does the face of earth entomb when living light should kiss it?” (Act 2 Sc 4 lines 6-12) Ross is telling the Old Man that the skies are upset with what Macbeth did (killing Duncan), and they are threatening and punishing the earth for it with these “unnatural” occurrences.  One example is that it is daytime yet it is dark outside.  The old man continues by telling Ross that a falcon was caught and killed by an owl that usually goes after mice.  Lastly, Duncan’s horses suddenly turned wild and crazy.  I think the book Macbeth is suggesting that the unnatural occurrences are, as defined, contrary to the ordinary course of nature; abnormal.  When the witches told Macbeth that he would be king, he was not told how or when he would become king.  Due to this, Macbeth decided to murder Duncan, so he could fulfill the witches prophecies and become king.  I think most likely the witches were foreseeing Macbeth becoming King in a natural way, yet he was too impatient to understand that.

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The Arrow and the Song

BLOG: What is your understanding of the poem’s theme? What questions do you have about your poem? (Please ask at least two questions)

I think the theme in the poem “The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has to do with maturing and discovering the repercussions to your actions.  Longfellow talks of “shooting an arrow into the air” and “breathing a song into the air” and then later loosing track of both the arrow and the song because they travelled to fast for his sight.  I think both the arrow and the song represent the good and the bad.  The arrow talked about in the first stanza represents the physical nature, whereas the song talked about in the second stanza represents the verbal, spiritual, and emotional nature.  In the end, the speaker finds the whereabouts of the arrow, unbroken in an oak, and the song, from start to finish in the heart of a friend.  This poem shows the progression in time, growing up, and realizing your impact.  Many times as a kid, you will do something and not realize how it will end up or the long term effects.  Yet, as you grow older and begin maturing, you come to learn and better understand all of the repercussions to your actions, where they are good or bad.  For example, the speaker was able to gain a friend from breathing a song into the air long ago, because it had greatly impacted someone for the better.


1) What is the literal meaning when he says “who has sign so keen and strong that it can follow the flight of a song?”  You cant see a song, so that confused me

2) When the speaker finds the arrow unbroken in an oak, is that a negative or positive impact/repercussion?

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Fire and Ice

What do “fire” and “ice” symbolize in the poem? Be sure to tie your analysis to very specific evidence.

The poem “Fire and Ice” written by Robert Frost, symbolizes desire and hatred in the world.  The “fire” symbolizes the passion and desire in the world, whereas the “ice” symbolizes the coldness and hatred. Frost associates the word “desire” with the word “fire” in the following lines: “From what I’ve tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire” (3-4).  He is saying that he stands closer in sentiment to those who favor fire, or in other words passion and desire.  Thereafter, Frost goes on to associate the word “hate” with the word “ice” in the following lines: “I think I know enough of hate,/To say that for destruction ice/Is also great” (6-8). This means if it were to die twice, it would have experienced enough hate, coldness, and detachment in the world to say it would end in ice.




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BLOG: Okay, so you wrote the other night about symbolism in “After Apple PIcking.” Now let’s give it a shot in “Ulysses.” We’ve been hearing about this character for thousands of years, writing and reading more and more about him. And indeed, he’s an interesting guy! But could it be that he’s got an appeal beyond just himself? Could it be that in Tennyson’s poem, for instance, the character represents something more than the man Ulysses who conquered Troy, ventured home, and set out again on a voyage into the unknown? What might he symbolize?

Although the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is about a man on a journey who conquered Troy, ventured home, and set out again on a voyage into the unknown, it symbolizes much more.  The speaker begins with a negative and dull tone, talking about how he is bored of his life.  He thinks it is boring to stay in one place and wants to live his life to the fullest.  Ulysses wants to travel, experience, and explore all adventurous aspects of life.  I think Ulysses symbolizes a hero and what it means to be an explorer and or traveler.  He is targeting people who are living unfulfilled lives.  Ulysses is similar to a hero because not only did he conquer troy, and venture home, but he set out yet again on a voyage of the unknown.  He is full of strength, optimism, and energy, three of the many key qualities in which all heros contain. Tennyson says: “Life piled on life were all too little, and some of one to me little remains; but every hour is saved from that eternal silence, and something more, a bringer of new things”.  This quote shows that life on top of life is not even enough.  Ulysses’ is growing old, so the rest of his life is very important.  Time is of the essence and every moment is necessary for his life long exploration.  His qualities of wanting to live life to the fullest prove that Ulysses symbolizes an explorer or traveler.

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After Apple-Picking

BLOG: This poem certainly seems to be about apple picking, and about sleep. What more could apple-picking and sleep represent? And if they represent more than themselves, then what sort of figure does that make them?

The poem “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost is mainly about apple-picking and sleep, yet it has a much more figurative meaning.  I think these topics of apple-picking and sleep represent getting older and closer to death.  The speaker has been an apple-picker for the majority of his life, and is getting tired of it.  He senses that he is close to death because he is dreaming of the time when he can stop working and rest.  He says “The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.”, showing that this man is so used to the smell and aroma of apples that he has been an apple-picker for very long and now it makes him tired. Usually the scent of apples is pleasant to anyone that is not frequently around it.  Later in the poem, Frost writes “Of apple-picking: I am overtired.”  The speaker has been apple-picking for a long span of his life and is bored of it.  He becomes tired and fed up with it. The apple-picker also talks of how his sleep may either be just a rest or long-term.  Lastly, towards the end of the poem, the speaker says “Long sleep, as I describe its coming on”.  The phrasing in this line leads the reader to believe that the referenced “long sleep” is not just him sleeping longer than usual.  The wording of “Long sleep” in most cases typically conveys death, especially used in this context.

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Literary Figures

BLOG: Consider the shifts in “Harlem,” “Digging,” and “The Writer,” from one literary figure (simile, metaphor, symbol) to another.

“Harlem,” “Digging,” and “The Writer” each open with one type of literary figure (simile, metaphor, symbol), only to replace that figure with one of a different type by the end. Consider what the shift achieves in each poem: overall, how do the shifts demonstrate the differences between simile, metaphor, and symbol? This question is about how the different literary figures operate, not about the specific shifting meanings of the deferred dream, the poet’s pen, and the young writer.

“Harlem”, “Digging” and “The Writer” all are poems that shift in literary figures from the start to the end of the poem.  In “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, it uses similes throughout the poem and later shifts literary figures to a metaphor in the last line.  The change in literary figures allows the reader to question what dreams are like, and if the prior comparisons are true.  This shift from a simile to a metaphor gives the reader an idea of how dreams are very different and unorganized.  Also by using the word “explode” in the last line, it leaves the reader to interpret it in a way he or she wants.  Similar to “Harlem”, the poem “Digging” by Seamus Heaney starts with a simile and ends with a metaphor.  The metaphor shift at the end gives “Digging” a much deeper figurative meaning to it.  It makes the poem seem very literal up until Heaney changed literary figures to a metaphor.  Lastly, “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur begins with a metaphor and shifts into a symbol towards the end.  Wilbur uses the first 9 lines of the poem to establish the metaphor of his daughter in comparison to a boat.  Once the daughter neglects his comparison, the poem switches to a symbol of his daughter as a bird.  This symbol gives lots of room for different analysis.

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The Writer

BLOG: Just a free reflection this time: what do you think is the message of the poem? Why?

I think the poem “The Writer”, written by Richard Wilbur is about overcoming the hardships you may encounter within your life.  The speaker who is a father, talks about his daughter writing a story.  The literal meaning might be that this father sees his daughter struggling to write a story and initially wishes for her to figure it out.  Later he realizes that in order for her to write a good story, she must struggle and learn from it.  The bigger picture in this poem is that everyone tackles burdens in their life and they have to learn to overcome them and learn from them.  In line eight, Wilbur writes “of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:” (8).  This shows that his daughter’s life is full of many experiences, some of which are burdens.  The speaker or father wishes his daughter a “lucky passage”, initially hoping that she has fewer hardships and may easily overcome all that she may encounter throughout her life. In the last stanza, Wilbur writes “I wish/What I wished you before, but harder.”  This shows that he no longer wishes her an easy life, but rather it is necessary for his daughter to learn from her own burdens, struggles, and mistakes.

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Contrast the first stanza of the poem with the last, considering specifically the replacement of “snug as a gun” (2) with “I’ll dig with it” (31). What kind of attitude toward the speaker’s work does each phrase suggest? What does this slight change from the beginning of the poem to the end represent? Can you support your analysis with evidence from the middle stanzas?

In the poem “Digging” by Seamus Heaney, the first and last stanza begin the same, but end differently.  They both begin with “between my fingers and my thumb the squat pen rests”, but the fact that they have different endings changes the meaning.  Heaney ends the first stanza saying “as snug as a gun” and ends the final stanza with the words “I’ll dig with it”.  I think Seamus Heaney begins the poem with “as snug as a gun”, because he is attempting to write a poem but is unsure of what it will be about.  They way I interpret the words “as snug as a gun” is that his pen being held very tight and steadily, similar to the way people hold guns.  As the poem continues, it talks about how he sees his father and grandfather digging.  This gives him the inspiration to write and complete his poem.  In line 8, Heaney says “Stooping in rhythm through potato drills” shows that he is using his the explanation of his father and grandfather digging to create the rhythm of this poem.  He first sees his father digging and then later his grandfather.  The speaker says “but i’ve no spade to follow men like them” (28).  This quote explains that the speaker does not have the materials or skill to be a “digger” like his ancestors.  By saying “the squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.”, the speaker is explaining that rather than being a “digger” like his ancestors, he will use his pen to “dig” or write poems.

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Sonnet 138 Double Meaning

Blog Post: Read and annotate Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138. With the help of a dictionary, consider possible double meanings of “lie/lies” (1, 13, 14), “vainly” (5), “Simply” (7), “habit” (10). Blog about the possibilities that the double-meanings raise.

In Sonnet 138, written by William Shakespeare, there are many specific words that could have double meanings.  Depending on the way you define the word, it will alter your interpretation for meaning of that line.  The word “lies”, used three times in this poem, could be interpreted in different ways.  It could mean to tell an intentional false statement, or to be in a lying down position.  I think that every time Shakespeare uses the word “lie/lies” he means to tell an intentionally false statement.  Although, line 13 states: “Therefore I lie with her and she with me”.  Either meanings for the word “lie” in this line could work here. This is an example of when my interpretation for the meaning of the line changes based on the definition I use. One meaning is he lies down with her because they are in love, and the second meaning is they tell intentionally false statements to one another.  Although both meanings work, I think to interpret the word “lie” as to tell an intentionally false statement flows better.  It follows the first line’s meaning about how this man believes her even though he knows that she is not telling the truth.

A second word that has double meaning is “vainly”.  This word could mean having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, or producing no result and being useless.  In line 5 “Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young”, when Shakespeare uses the words vainly he means having or showing excessively high opinion of one’s appearance.  The woman is self-centered and has a strong opinion that he is too young.

Another word that has double meaning is “simply”.  This word could mean in a straightforward or plain manner, or merely and just.  Line 7 stating “Simply I credit false speaking tongue” is using the word “simply” in the merely and just sense.  If the “in a straightforward or plain manner” definition was used, line 7 would be interpreted as direct credit.   Both definitions make sense and this is another example of how the way you define a word can change your interpretation for the meaning of that line.

Lastly, the word “habit” has a double meaning.  This word could mean a settled or regular tendency or practice, or a long loose garment.  In line 10, Shakespeare uses the word “habit” to mean a settled or regular tendency or practice.  it would not work to say “O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust” and use the word “habit as a garment.  That would be saying that “O, love’s best garment is in seeming trust”.

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