Motif Of Hallucinations In Macbeth

1073 Words5 Pages
Tzivia Major Ms.Kur

In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the motif of hallucinations to symbolize how guilt leads to a major moral decline in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Hallucinations are viewing something that is not really there, perhaps just an effect of going crazy. When Macbeth is ready to kill Duncan he hallucinates that there is a bloody dagger lying before him. Later on in the play Macbeth again hallucinates, this time imagining the Ghost of Banquo whom he has just killed. As Macbeth commits more acts of murder the effect of the hallucinations become greater. Macbeth goes from hallucinating an object to hallucinating about a person. Finally, Shakespeare writes about Lady Macbeth proving her regret for her husbands actions by having her hallucinate that she is washing blood off of her hands. Shakespeare uses the motif of hallucinations to emphasize how guilty Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel because of their acts of murder.
When Macbeth imagines that there is a bloody dagger before him even before he is about to kill Duncan, it represents his guilt even before he has committed any crimes. Macbeth has planned the entire act of killing Duncan and as he walks to Duncan's room, he hallucinates that there is a bloody dagger sitting before him, inviting him to kill Duncan. This bloody dagger is a window to Macbeth's future of guilt after killing the king. Even before Macbeth has done a deed he feels guilty for what he is about to do. This dagger is there as a warning for what is to come in his future if he does kill the king.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. 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
Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain? (II.i.44-51)

Macbeth knows that he is hallucinating that there is a bloody dagger, but he can't seem to let the vision go. Macbeth knows the guilt will be haunting him for a while even before he has killed the king. The dagger is put before him as a warning that he will feel guilty about killing Duncan after it is too late. Macbeth is very weak and inexperienced around murder, so he is

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