The passage is set at the end of act 1, specifically occurring as a result of Macbeth’s emotional and mental dilemma. Macbeth had previously left the banquet, which Duncan had been attending and had been considering and weighing up whether or not he should go through with a “horrid deed” (line 24), the murderous act of killing the King Duncan. Lady Macbeth came to join Macbeth and at once began to question him, sensing his indecision at a course of actions to take against the King. Lady Macbeth then proceeds to extract a response from her husband and ultimately convinces him to go through with her plan to kill Duncan. After Macbeths initial indecision the tension is high and remains so for the rest of the scene as we see Lady Macbeth infuse in Macbeth a new course of action.
Macbeths tries to reason with his logic, and comes to the conclusion not to kill the King, however with the influence of his powerful wife, his state of mind is changed and set through this imperative passage. Lady Macbeth manages to convince Macbeth of her plan, even though he is scared and unaware of the consequences. She does this carefully and effectively, using blackmail and many emotional tricks over Macbeth. For example she questions his manhood at not committing to the act “When you durst do it you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” She also compares herself to if she were in her situation, saying how much her love for him would go. Lady Macbeth says she would kill her own infant for the benefit of his “...I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had i sworn as you have done to this”. All this influence greatly changed the actions he is to take, a beaten and suddenly directed Macbeths says “I am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat”.