Posted in Macbeth, Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week: “Look Like Th’ Innocent Flower, But Be The Serpent Under ‘T”

This quote is one of most memorable from Macbeth (and it’s one of QuickLits’ personal favourites). It’s often used as evidence of Lady Macbeth’s ambitious, evil nature and comes from Act I, Scene V.

Let’s take a look at it in full:

Your face, my thane, is as a book where men

May read strange matters.

To beguile the time,

Look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye,

Your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower,

But be the serpent under ’t.”

To put this quote into context, Lady Macbeth is telling Macbeth that in order to not be suspected of murdering King Duncan, he must make sure that he acts in a very specific way.

First up, Macbeth needs to remember that his face is capable of revealing his innermost and darkest intentions. To show this, she uses a metaphor, comparing Macbeth’s face to a book. In order for Macbeth’s murderous plans to not be detected, he must act in a pleasant, kind and welcoming way to everyone, including King Duncan.

Secondly, to really hammer this point home, Lady Macbeth talks about acting like a flower but really behaving like the serpent/snake underneath it, and this is where things get really interesting. When we think about a flower – about the connotation – we think of some nice, something pleasant to look at. This reinforces Lady Macbeth’s point about Macbeth treating his guests warmly and with kindness.

However, when we think of a serpent or a snake, something far more sinister comes to mind. Think about the serpent in the Bible, for example, the snake which tempted Eve to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden. So this section of the quote is actually an allusion to that famous Biblical story, reinforcing the idea of Macbeth’s sinister intentions.




So that’s this week’s Quote of the Week. We hope you enjoyed it.

For more Macbeth quotes and analysis, check out our study guide here.


Posted in Macbeth

Is Lady Macbeth Evil?

One topic that features heavily on Macbeth essays and exams is the character and role of Lady Macbeth. Most likely, you’ll be asked to decide if Lady Macbeth is evil, controlling, manipulative, or whether you feel she was responsible for King Duncan’s death.
Is Lady Macbeth mad, bad and dangerous to know?


Remember that there are no right or wrong answers here. You might think Lady Macbeth is evil or you might not. The point is, whatever you believe, you MUST use quotes from the play to support your answer.

So let’s take a look at Lady Macbeth’s first appearance in the play (Act I, Scene V) and look for evidence of her evil nature.

First up:

“Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way.”

In this quote, Lady Macbeth has heard about the prophecy that Macbeth will become king. The problem is, she knows that Macbeth is naturally a good, kind person (“too full o’ the’ milk of human kindness) to actually take the throne from Duncan by force. Shakespeare is suggesting here that Lady Macbeth is not like Macbeth, she, perhaps, doesn’t have any of this milk of human kindness.


“Hie thee hither,

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear

And chastise with the valor of my tongue

All that impedes thee from the golden round.”

This quote doesn’t make Lady Macbeth look good at all. She’s saying that she has the necessary evil qualities (“my spirits”) that Macbeth needs to make himself king. Moreover, she’s more than happy to share them with Macbeth (“pour my spirits in thine ear”).

So, Act I, Scene V provides a couple of examples of Lady Macbeth’s evil nature. To add to this body of evidence, Lady Macbeth also goes on to make a number of preparations for Duncan’s murder. She makes sure that Duncan’s servants are drunk, for example, and that Macbeth has easy access to the murder weapon.

However, this quote from Act II, Scene II suggests that Lady Macbeth might not be as evil as we first thought:

“Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done ’t.”

In this quote, Lady Macbeth is saying that she would have happily murdered Duncan herself, however, he looked an awful lot like her father as he lay sleeping. If she was truly evil, would this image of her father really have stopped her?

Again, there are no right or wrong answers here. It is up to you make your own decision and to use quotes to support it.

For more Lady Macbeth quotes and analysis, check out our study guide here.


Posted in Macbeth

Introducing the QuickLits Guide to Macbeth

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had that same problem …

You’ve just been given an essay on Macbeth. It’s due in a week and you’ve been told that you NEED to provide quotes from the play to support your ideas.

What do you do?

Do you A) panic for six days and then spend the last 24 hours surfing page after page on Google looking for Macbeth quotes and analysis?


Or do you B) head over to and check out the new QuickLits Guide to Macbeth?

If you guessed B), then let us congratulate you! That’s exactly the right thing to do.


Well, because QuickLits has done the hard work for you. Our literature experts have done the searching, the analysis and laid it all out for you, act by act, scene by scene. They’ve even included a cheat sheet: a handy roundup of all the key themes, symbols, motifs and literary devices you could ever need!

This study guide is also an ideal resource for parents who are looking for the best resource to support their kids through exams and essays.

No fuss, no stress, no problem. Success guaranteed.

What You’ll Find Inside the QuickLits Guide to Macbeth:

  • Full overview of how QuickLits’ unique method works
  • Macbeth Act I quotes and analysis
  • Macbeth Act 2 quotes and analysis
  • Macbeth Act 3 quotes and analysis
  • Macbeth Act 4 quotes and analysis
  • Macbeth Act 5 quotes and analysis
  • Macbeth Cheat Sheet – a full roundup of all the key themes, literary devices and their supporting quotes.


Macbeth Cover

Click here to buy. Happy reading 🙂