Figurative Language

Never the Twain shall Meet

In Act III, Scene I of William Shakespeare’s "The Tragedy of Macbeth," Banquo tells Macbeth that he will ride as far as he can before supper. The word “twain” derives from the Old English word twegen, simply meaning “the number two (2).” Essentially, Banquo states that he will be riding in the dark an hour or two if his horse is slow. (Poets frequently use “twain” instead of “two” at the ends of lines for rhyming purposes.)

Perfume in “Macbeth”

Elizabethans didn’t bathe often, but the wealthy used a lot of perfumes, which they purchased from merchants who traded with Arabia. Arabia (included in the countries that now consist of what we call the Middle East) would have seemed exotic and faraway to Shakespeare’s audience.

His Knell is Knolled in “Macbeth”

In Act V, Scene XI of "Macbeth," Siward learns of his son’s death from Ross. Siward tells Ross and Maclcolm that he was glad that his son died the honorable death of a soldier saying: “And so his knell is knolled.” Shakespeare is using complex figurative language here to express reverence surrounding Malcolm’s son’s death.
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