At the beginning of the soliloquy, what does Macbeth see? Do you think it is a hallucination? Or is the object really there?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Evidently you are referring to Macbeth's speech in Act 2, Scene 1, beginning with: "Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?" Macbeth undoubtedly sees a dagger, but it must be an hallucination. He says, "Come, let me clutch thee." But he is unable to do so. This would seem to prove, if any proof were necessary, that it is, as he says, "a dagger of the mind, a false creation / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain." Macbeth seems subject to mental aberrations, including trance-like states and hallucinations, as when he imagines he sees Banquo sitting in his place at the banquet table. If the dagger were real, Macbeth would be able to use it to murder King Duncan, but according to the stage directions "He draws his dagger." Later his wife pooh-poohs his "fatal vision," saying, "This is the very painting of your fear. / This is the air-drawn dagger which you said / Led you to Duncan." (3.4.74-6)


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