5W's? significance? literary devices? developing themes and character? Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch ee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw. Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going; And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses, Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There's no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half-world Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecat's off'rings; and wither'd Murder, Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear Thy very stones prate of my whereabout, And take the present horror from the time, Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives: Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. A bell rings. I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Assuming that the question is asking for the meaning and significance behind this soliloquy, Macbeth has this hallucination of the dagger near the beginning of Act II in the play.  Lady Macbeth has persuaded Macbeth to go ahead with plans to murder King Duncan, and Macbeth is now seriously considering the plan.  The dagger itself may be seen as a symbol of Macbeth's ambition, greed, and guilt--Macbeth is tempted by his strong desire to see the witches' prophecy come true, yet he still feels a tinge of guilt believing that he must murder the King in order to take his position on the throne. 

Near the end of the soliloquy, a bell sounds.  The bell foreshadows the immediate death of King Duncan, but also foreshadows the treacherous fall of Macbeth.  His killing King Duncan begins a path of destruction for Macbeth that ultimately leads to his own downfall.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team