In Macbeth, what role do Macbeth's visions and hallucinations play in the develpoment of his character?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Macbeth, Macbeth's visions and hallucinations serve as symbols of Macbeth's inner conflict throughout the play.  Macbeth has his first hallucination when he envisions the dagger at the beginning of Act 2.  At this point in the play, he is still considering whether or not he should follow the plan that he has made with Lady Macbeth to murder King Duncan.  Macbeth acknowledges that Duncan is a good king and that he is loved by all in Scotland; however, his desire for power challenges his sense of loyalty to Duncan and Scotland.  Macbeth thinks that the dagger calls him towards committing the murder, so he decides to go through with the plan.  Later, Macbeth has Banquo murdered to protect his place on the throne, but Macbeth also realizes that Banquo is a good man.  He hallucinates Banquo's ghost after he falsely honors Banquo in front of the guests at the banquet.  So, Macbeth's hallucinations show that Macbeth is grappling with the decisions that he has made while trying to go after his ambition.