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In Macbeth, in what ways does Macbeth's "Is this a dagger..." soliloquy portray him as...

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seerboldly | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted March 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM via web

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In Macbeth, in what ways does Macbeth's "Is this a dagger..." soliloquy portray him as a tragic hero?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 27, 2013 at 2:47 PM (Answer #1)

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This soliloquy can be seen as presenting Macbeth as a tragic hero through the way that the dagger leads Macbeth towards Duncan's chamber and the murder he is going to commit. In a sense, Macbeth sees himself as almost being powerless to resist the dagger that he sees before him: he is a victim of forces beyond his control, whether they are supernatural or emerging from his own unconscious. Macbeth recognises this himself when he asks a series of questions to the dagger about its identity:

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but

A dagger of the mind, a false creation, 

Proceeding from the heat-opprest brain? 

Macbeth seems to recognise that this dagger could be a result of his own fevered imaginings, but either way, he sees it guiding him towards the terrible crime he is about to commit, and he is a tragic hero in the way that he is unable to resist the dagger's lure and the way that it foreshadows both the blood he will shed with a real dagger and his own blood that will be shed by the close of the play. Macbeth is a tragic hero in this play because in this speech, by determining to kill Duncan, he sets himself on the path to perdition whilst seeming to be helpless to prevent this.  


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