What is the theme of this passage from Macbeth?At the beginning of the passage we see that Macbeth is standing alone in a dark hall and he suddenly has this vision of a dagger floating in the air...

What is the theme of this passage from Macbeth?

At the beginning of the passage we see that Macbeth is standing alone in a dark hall and he suddenly has this vision of a dagger floating in the air in front of him, and this dagger has a handle pointing toward his hand and its tip pointing toward Duncan. He tries to hold the dagger but he fails. Then he asks himself, is this real or just an imagination from his nervous tired mind. He then thinks that he is seeing blood on the dagger-edge but he suddenly decides that what he is seeing is just a sign of his nervousness over killing Duncan. At the end of the passage it’s about how the night is loaded with fear and horror and Macbeth suddenly congeals and decides to go ahead with his bloody work and then lastly he hears a bell ring and that was a signal from his Wife Lady Macbeth that now all the servant are asleep and that that he should go forward with killing Duncan."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Phantasmorgia is a recurring motif in Shakespeare's Macbeth.  In Act II, Scene 1, Macbeth hallucinates because of his twinges of conscience regarding the bloody course on which he is about to embark.  The dagger points to King Duncan's chamber, causing Macbeth to ponder the murder upon his relative and friend that he is about to commit. He hesitates as he knows that with this deed he enters a new dimension where "Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse" and "witchcraft celebrates" as he ventures forth on the course of forcing the predictions of the three witches to be realized.  It is at this point in the play that Macbeth answers "the bell," of his "vaulting ambition and hears for Duncan "a knell/That summons [Duncan] to heaven or to hell" (2.1.71-72)

This is a key scene as Macbeth waivers in his evil course, but answers the bell of his wife and begins his path of murder and insanity and guilt.

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