What bloody man is that?
The theme of violence introduced in Macbeth Act I Scene II through the use of blood communicates to the audience the severity and maturity of the play’s content. The fact that this imagery appears in Act I Scene II, immediately proceeding the thematically dark and evil Act 1 Scene 1 helps to amplify the feelings of despair and darkness of the play overall.
This quote introduced the theme of violence and the motif of blood itself. Throughout the play, we’ll see that blood is a recurring component used to signify the decaying purity of the characters. As the amount of blood present in the play increases, so we will see various characters such as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth descend into madness.
For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name),
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like Valor’s minion, carved out his passage
This quote is the first time we hear about Macbeth - It’s important because we know nothing about him, yet hearing about him from an injured Captain who just saved Prince Malcolm lends Macbeth a significant amount of credibility.
This ‘credibility-lending’ technique is used later on in the scene, spoken by “The worthy Thane of Ross" as well! (1.2.50)
The quote is also important because it brings up the concept of “Fortune" or luck. The notion of luck isn’t quite present in the play, but it contrasts the theme of Fate, which is a continually present theme in the play
God save the King.
While it might be a little early to reveal too many future events, since you’re probably using this for academic purposes and not for pleasure reading, we’ll talk about this one right now. This is not a super significant quote that would appear on an “essential quotes" list if you’re cramming, but you might find it useful later in an essay or an assignment when you talk about how it might qualify as evidence of Shakespeare setting up some foreshadowing (spoiler alert: King Duncan dies later on so Ross’ wish for the King to be saved could be said to have been overthrown by destiny).
Further, it’s interesting to note that Ross says, “God" save the King, when in actuality it was Macbeth who saved the king - could this lend credence to Macbeth’s cockiness later as he decides to take on an entire army and impending doom without fear and a god-like assurance? Surely, he who wishes to act like God will be smitten, isn’t that right 18th century Elizabethan English audience?
Violence is ever present in this scene as the descriptions of Macbeth and Banquo’s bloody back-to-back victories paint them as war heros - know what war heroes are good at? Killing other war non-heroes. Yes, violence is an easy symbol to pick up on in this play. Look for quotes in the captain’s description of Macbeth’s fight to use for an essay or assignment.
Betrayal is also present in this scene - the entire first battle, described by the Captain, was about how Macbeth beat down the “revolt" led by the “merciless MacDonwald"
DuncanWhile it seems straight forward, there’s a hidden message here: Duncan is saying Macbeth will inherit that which the now-former Thane of Cawdor has lost. That could mean that Macbeth will simply inherit lands and a title, but it can also be interpreted as Macbeth gaining the characteristic which led the Thane of Cawdor to betray Duncan in the first place.
What he hath lost macbeth has gained
There are many different versions of Shakespeare’s works throughout the world, and different versions sometimes interpret dialogue line numbers differently. At Nerdstudy, we follow the Folger version of Shakespeare’s works, which may be different from the version you are using. Always make sure that you refer to your instructor’s recommendations about which version of the play you’re using in class and whether they will grade you based on accuracy of line numbers for essays, tests, and assignments. Folger Digital Texts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license.