Past tense in present.

Feb 13, 2011
In your bedroom wardrobe...

I'm cracking on nicely with SG but I wanted to check with you about a grammar rule which I suspect may be a stylistic era choice.

In my Medieval era I have used more or less modern syntax but been careful about anachronisms. In superficial ways I have tried to introduce a sense of the Middle Ages.

I recall Fleance saying 'Father, I am killed' in Macbeth which is much later than this section but I like the use of present and past in this way, and have at least three instances such as:

I am arrived
I am killed
By God's grace the weather was changed for the better.

What is the rule for this usage, do you know? If it is wrong I am not worried, but if it actually means something else, then I want to change it.

All three are fine by me -- they're clear and comprehensible, but at the same time give an archaic feeling.

EDIT: Fleance doesn't die, does he? I'm pretty sure he runs off when Banquo is killed, so he can provide the line of kings. Are you thinking of MacDuff's son? But that's "He has killed me" which is not quite the same thing.
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I'm not sure "I am killed" is a mix of past/present. Isn't it using "killed" as an adjective rather than a verb, possibly a usage that's fallen from favour? In any case, I like the archaic feel and as TJ says it's clearly comprehensible.
I am surprised at the acceptability of it! From the two members whose skills and knowledge I'm scaredyest-of!

Is Fleance Banquo's son? I thought he was Macuff's. I know he's described as a worm. Ever since I was a kid and watched the Roman Polanski Macbeth I hated the little boy who ran off. I might be mis-remembering because of the gross liberties Polanksi took with the text (yes, Malcolm and Donalbain going to the witches... what a joke!).


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The reason it works is because it's a thing. Early modern English, as in Shakespeare, commonly used "to be" and "to have" as a supplemental method of expressing the present-perfect tense.

Hence: "I am killed!"

And also: "I am become death, destroyer of worlds." - Oppenheimer, from the Sanskrit.

"I am become a name." - Tennyson.

And from Uncle Bill himself: "Lady Valeria is come to visit you."

So it's all good!

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