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Macbeth’s Soliloquy: "Is this a dagger?"

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Introduction

Macbeth's Soliloquy: "Is this a dagger?" The character Macbeth, from the play of the same name, is portrayed as a typical honourable, courageous servant to his King, Duncan, in the opening scenes of Macbeth. However, we soon learn that things are not as they seem, as malevolent forces, in the form of three "weird sisters", and Macbeth's own wife are at work. Macbeth is told by the Weird Sisters that he is destined to become king of Scotland, and that he will first become Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth, a man appreciative of his current situation as a respected trusted servant to his king, is startled by these revelations, and has many questions for the Sisters, none of which receive an answer. In spite of the confusion that this causes within him, the first part of the prophecy does indeed come true, as Macbeth is awarded with the title: Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth introduces the "appearances are deceptive" theme by asking the question: Why do you dress me in borrowed robes? in relation to his appointment. Later, Lady Macbeth is made aware of the situation, and her self-admittedly evil manner is clear for all to witness, as she uses her obvious control over her husband's emotions to her advantage, namely becoming the wife of a king. She implants the idea of seizing the throne into Macbeth's mind, and although his brain disagrees, he knows that deep within his soul, he needs to satisfy his overwhelming ambition. ...read more.

Middle

disappears, suddenly, when a previously requested bell is tolled, and in a moment of disturbing clarity, Macbeth states: Hear it not Duncan, for it is a knell...That summons thee to heaven or to hell. The tolling of the bell is significant, because it represents the summoning of his wife, his gluttonous desire for power, and the completion of the Weird Sister's prophecy, each giving him the confidence necessary to commit murder. The language used by Shakespeare in Macbeth's soliloquy has a purpose of not only developing the story and the character of Macbeth, but also to link in with the motifs and themes of the play. The hallucinations, which may have been created by the Weird Sisters, serve to torment both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, not only here, but also later on in the play (Banquo's ghost, un-washable blood). This gives us the impression that the Weird Sister's are far more powerful than mere fortune tellers, rather entities with the ability to do anything that they so desire, with their desires being evil: Witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's Off' rings, and withered murder. The motif of "blood" is played heavily upon here, as Macbeth sees "gouts" of blood on the dagger. The dagger is also a vital part of the piece, as it is given personification by Macbeth, as he struggles to come to terms with the situation: Come, let me clutch thee which is similar to the way in which someone may address a partner, and in this instance, perhaps Macbeth sees the knife as a partner, or guide. ...read more.

Conclusion

Upon the mention of Tarquin, loud, stereo footsteps will be heard in the background, with Macbeth nodding along to the rhythm of each step. As the bell is rung, the spotlight will disappear, the lights will return, and a curtain will close over every window. Macbeth will confidently speak his lines, walking purposefully to the exit as he does so. There were a number of social influences that Shakespeare had during his writing of the play. Then king James 1st witchcraft, and so I would imagine that one of Shakespeare's concerns was to please his king. The subject of regicide is also touched upon, in Macbeth's murdering of Duncan. The final three lines of the soliloquy are obviously in an almost direct contrast to anything that had occurred before in the play. It seems that this is a turning point in the production, as from this point forward; Macbeth becomes embroiled in a life of deceit, murder, and treachery. This is a very dramatic point, as it is the first instance in which Macbeth appears to have control, and also the first instance in which he displays his evil in "normal circumstances": for example, in the earlier part of the soliloquy, he was experiencing hallucinations, perhaps witchcraft, whereas here, there are no special effects, no darkened rooms, and no mysterious dialogue. Macbeth simply acknowledges what the bell means: that the focus of the play is about to change, and the pace is to be quickened with immediate effect. John Beesley, 10 Bingham ...read more.

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