Soliloquies in the play, Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, have been greatly applauded for their aesthetic and creative meanings. In this particular part of the scene, Act 2 scene 1, lines 31-64, Lady Macbeth has convinced her husband to murder duncan. However on the way to the king’s chamber, Macbeth spots a dagger before him. In this passage, Shakespeare amplifies the usage of literary devices in Macbeth’s soliloquy, to display the after effect when ambitious thoughts are causing one to carry out a malevolent deed.
Shakespeare highlights the changes in one’s mind as ambitious thoughts consume their morals, ideals and judgement ability through the motif of hallucination. Upon seeing a floating dagger whilst walking towards Duncan’s chamber, Macbeth shouts, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” (2.1.33-34) Hallucination in the passage foreshadows that Macbeth is closer than ever before in accomplishing his deeds. Macbeth always had doubts about fulfilling his deeds due to the consequences, however, Macbeth is now as ready as ever. As he approaches the king, he sees a false creation in his mind, which is manifesting itself into a delusional reflection of his own self thoughts. Macbeth desires to physically “clutch” the dagger, indicating his willingness to murder Duncan, but conversely he knows that he will. Also, the hallucination foreshadows all the gory deeds he will embark on from this point. The dagger is leading him to betray and murder the king with blood stains. It foretells that he will be venturing a bloody course of events in the future. The motif of hallucination recurs in the play to remind the audience of the possible changes in one’s mind if ambitious thoughts conquers all that is just. Shakespeare warns that even those that are most loyal can turn false-hearted, if ambition consumes the decision makings that are ethical.
Metaphor plays a colossal role in portraying how ambition can lead one’s mind to go vile which would affect their lives permanently. After seeing the dagger, Macbeth says, “A dagger of the mind, a false creation,/proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (2.1.38-39). The metaphor of “dagger of the mind” in this case, like mentioned before, is guilt and doubt. Macbeth claims that that the dagger is a false imagination. Also, the definition of heat-oppressed, in Shakespeare language, means feverish. The literal meaning of fever is a symptom of a disease, and this disease serves as a metaphor, where fever symbolizes a state of intense emotion. The metaphor for disease can be viewed as his ambitions, because his ambitious activities give him heightened sentiments. Shakespeare utilizes the literary device of metaphor to convey a strong message to the audience: ambitious thoughts could ultimately lead to ones infection by this disease, affecting their lives drastically
Macbeth’s dark imagery created by Shakespeare in the play helps the audience acknowledge the change in one’s loyalty, and form amiss curse. The quote, “Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse” (2.1.50) begins the setting using dark imagery. Macbeth claims that “Nature seems dead”, as he believes nature has been reversed by his actions. It is unnatural for one to murder someone that is god appointed, and as Macbeth is planning to do so, he feels that his mind has been corrupted and all of things that are natural seems reversed to him. Also, the reversal of nature shows Macbeth as a dynamic character, as he changes from a trusty kinsman to a murderer only wishes to fulfill his dreams. Readers can learn to be cautious about letting out their imaginative wishes, especially when it is unseen by others, as it could form as a curse of great horror. Shakespeare shows the importance of being just at all times, and always stick to what one’s code of ethics is leading themselves to.
William Shakespeare displays strong themes to the audience about human ambition, where one can lead themselves into their own demise. Readers can realize the effect of unchecked ambition, even if it means hurting somebody that one admires and loves. Shakespeare reminds readers that ambition is always a sizeable aspect of any healthy human’s life, whether one may be sovereign or vagabond. However, Shakespeare warns that our ambitions should have limits and be moderated from time to time, as we can become so consumed with our goals that we lose track of those around us, and what greater failure exceeds ruining the dreams of another human being. It seems that the author advises us that we should never be self-consumed with our own ambition, but instead, our ambitions should be shared by all people, so that when we succeed and fail, we are united as one in humanity.