William Shakespeare is an famous English poet, writer and actor. He was born in April 1564 and died 23 of April 1616. In the years that he was alive he wrote 37 plays, and one was Macbeth. The play Macbeth is based of a true story, it is based of the real 11 century Scottish king Mac Bethad Mac Findlaich. In this play Shakespeare uses many language techniques to give more meaning behind his words, such as metaphors, tension , symbolism and personification. These language techniques give the reader the ability to see into the characters  minds and feel what they feel. 

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, he uses language to show his ideas of how the human population is driven by their desires. In this play Macbeth is driven to make what the witches have said come true, that he will become king of Scotland, with the idea of Macbeth becoming king, meant to him that he will do anything in his power to make it come true. This means even killing people such as King Duncan, Banquo, Macduff’s family and more. Shakespeare uses metaphors, tension, similes and many more. In act  5 scene 5 is an good example of Shakespeare using metaphors in his plays to give his words more meaning. This is shown in the quote:
“Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the syllable of recorded time;
and all our yesterdays have lighted fool, the way to dusty death out out brief candle!life’s but a walking shadow a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, than the is heard no more it is a tale, told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 

These words are spoken by Macbeth, the line ‘ life’s but a walking shadow’, meaning that life is nothing more than an illusion, that brings light and darkness into a person’s life, and it takes any form of shape depending on what we do with it, and it is also talking about how the actors walk around the stage telling a story, but as only a player, that life itself is a game. When Macbeth hears that his wife has died, the last line from this quote says ‘signifying nothing’, this would mean that everything is meaningless because at one point in our life we stop walking on the stage which we call life, we die and then we are heard no more. If life means nothing, that would mean that all of the crimes that Macbeth has done, means nothing, that what we do in life means nothing when the one we love is no longer apart of your life.This quote is very powerful and Shakespeare has used words to make every second line iambic pentameter. This gives effect to what Macbeth is saying, it’s also like he has lost all ability to talk and to live now that Lady Macbeth has died. 



In Macbeth, Shakespeare also used symbolism. Symbolism is used to enhance the reader, it also gives the writing more style, which gives the writing more depth. Shakespeare uses symbolism for the overall theme of murder. The contrast between light and dark is a symbol for good and evil, this has a huge part in the play. symbols were used to show murder and guilt, which is shown as blood. This symbol is shown countless times in the play. An example of this is the quote “I am in blood, Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

This quote is from Macbeth Act 3 scene 4. This quote shows that Macbeth has realized that what he has done is horrible. The guilt from having his best friend, Banquo killed, washes over him. This causes him to start to see things. This is shown with Banquo appearing at the celebrating feast of Macbeth becoming king. Because only at this stage Macbeth is the only one feeling the guilt and pain for what he did to make him becoming king possible. Lady Macbeth isn’t feeling any guilt, as she is pleased that Macbeth has become king. It isn’t until the near the end of the play in Act five does the guilt set in for her. This is shown with Lady Macbeth walking around in her sleep trying to clean her hands of the blood, which is the symbol for guilt and murder/death. In this play blood is shown a symbol for both and in most lines that the word blood is used in means both. This is shown in the quote said by Macbeth. The first part of the quote says “i am in blood.” This mean that he is surrounded by the guilt for the murders of King Duncan and Banquo. The next part of the quote says “stepp’d in so far, that, should i wade no more.” Macbeth has gone so far in the idea of becoming king the murdering has become too much and now he is so deep in lies, in order to get to be king and to stay as king. The last part of this quote says “returning were as tedious as go o’er.” Macbeth is so far in lies that he is now stuck where he is. Macbeth can’t go forward and go back. The choice that Macbeth made is the one he has to stick with. This leaves him to deal with what he has done.



Another language technique that Shakespeare used was personification. Personification is when the writer gives objects human characteristics. This technique is shown through this quote,  “Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep.” This quote comes from after Macbeth has killed King Duncan. This quote is important because it is using personification to bring sleep to life, making it something that is able to be killed.

The first line of this quote  “sleep no more!” The three words sleep no more is meaning that by killing someone they are unable to sleep anymore, even though when a person has died they are buried and are left to rest in peace. The reason why Macbeth is saying “sleep no more” is because of how also Macbeth had murdered him means that it was not peacefully which could mean why King Duncan would be unable to rest in his grave. The last part of the quote states “Macbeth doth murder sleep” is also referring to how Macbeth will never be able to sleep again, because he has murdered someone else’s sleep. Macbeth is so imbued with guilt from murdering King Duncan he is afraid to sleep, incase the memory of killing him comes back to haunt him.



Tension is the blocker for a clear mind. Shakespeare uses this to amuse the witches when Macbeth asks for more detail about how he will die or what is to happen in the future. The witches play with his emotions which confuses him, leaving him with an unclear mind. This then forces stress to also toy with his ability to make decisions. We are given tension between Macbeth and Banquo after they had met the three witches and heard about their prophecies. They both want their prophecies to come true. This creates an uneasy tension for the fight to make the prophecies come true. A form of tension we are shown is through the ‘dagger’  that Macbeth sees. 

“Is this a dagger which i see before me?” This quote refers to tension that builds within himself. Macbeth isn’t able to decide if he will murder King Duncan or not. The witches are messing with Macbeths mind which is leaving him delusional, causing him to see objects to confuse him. The dagger is showing Macbeth what must be done to fulfill the prophecy. The dagger is not only showing tension within Macbeths mind but it also foreshadows events that will happen in the future, such as the death of King Duncan. The dagger also shows Macbeth’s success. It shows Macbeth what he can do. Macbeth is like as if he gets a rush from the death of his cousin King Duncan, but this feeling is also mixed with guilt from what he has done. Because of these two feelings Macbeths mind is unclear. Each emotions is pulling at the other trying to have the overall power of his mind. This puts Macbeth into a state of mind where he goes back and forth between the two emotions, blocking his ability to make decisions. The witches had done their job and clouded Macbeth’s mind with tension between himself and Banquo. 


Shakespeare used a countless number of language techniques, this included metaphors, tension, symbolism and personification. Each technique brings layers to quotes, such as tension weakens the mind, metaphors express emotion, symbolism represents and idea, brings it to life and personification gives non living objects human characteristics. With each technique the play gains layers and depth. Shakespeare’s way of bringing the story of Macbeth alive brings mixed emotions. Some of those emotions are feeling sorry that Macbeth was blinded by power, he was unable to see the world he was destroying or some people are happy that Macbeth dies in the end, like it was what he had coming for him. Shakespeare has a huge power with language. He is able to create feelings with simple words, but the way he mixes words to form sentences by using language techniques gives him the simple power to have such depth in is work. 



By Amy Morris  



Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. This essay is a clear response to the task. You’re using a clear structure and your ideas are relevant and well supported with evidence.

    Your main focus, once you’ve completed the over-all structure, is to build into the piece some more nuanced language effects of your own. It’s not a persuasive piece, however you do still want to use your skill as a writer to convey your ideas with as much fluency as possible. I encourage you to look at the exemplar in the task outline to see how that writer used metaphor to underline and illuminate (both metaphors) the points they wanted to make

  2. hi i wasnt here last tuesday because i was at the drama play

  3. Achievement Achievement with Merit Achievement with Excellence
    Develop and structure ideas in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose in formal writing.

    Develop and structure ideas convincingly in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose with control in formal writing.

    Develop and structure ideas effectively in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose with control to command attention in formal writing.


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