What kinds of thoughts are being expressed by Macbeth when he sees a dagger suspended in the air in front of him?

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mperez-mugg21 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the dagger soliloquy, Macbeth ponders the possibility of murdering Duncan. He recognizes that he is seeing a bloody, murderous dagger suspended in front of him and that this apparition cannot be real. Further, he questions his own thoughts and mental state when he sees this dagger, wondering if he should trust his own mental facilities to correctly guide him to the appropriate actions. Shakespeare uses this soliloquy to accomplish two things. First, he sets the viewer up to understand the mental delirium that Macbeth undergoes as he questions his ability to commit Duncan's murder. Second, he sets an eerie mood for the murder itself by utilizing the imagery of ghosts, witches, and the moonlight to suggest evildoing. During this section of the play, Macbeth accepts the actions that he is going to take in killing Duncan and commits himself to the evil that he plans to pursue. In questioning his actions so fervently before committing the crime, Macbeth clearly begins the play as a good man who slowly unravels due to a number of external factors.