This is shown when Macbeth compares his visions of a floating dagger to “a dagger of the mind” (Shakespeare 2.1 39). Macbeth is wrought with guilt from the very idea of carrying out Duncan’s murder and, due to his sensitive characteristics, consequently punctures his sanity in order to handle this self-condemnation. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth insists that he hears voices cry in the night, “‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’” (Shakespeare 2.2. 35-36), but no one other than Lady Macbeth is awake to emit a sound.
William Shakespeare is considered as one of the best play writers in history. One of his most well known plays is Macbeth where a Scottish general named Macbeth has a strong desire to be king which leads him to betray and murder his king, Duncan. He also kills the nobles who have been loyal to him in order to maintain his title as king. Throughout this play, Shakespeare uses the motif of ambition, guilt, and fate to characterize the characters, show the different themes present within the play, and how the motifs are still relevant today. One of the most important motifs is ambition.
In the entirety of the play Macbeth gains power by murdering his enemies and those who suspect him. This also ties into his downfall, if you hear the witches prophecies clearly you might be able to tell that they also predict that happening. Yet Macbeth blinded by power has overlooked this and is only looking to gain more strength and build on what he has already. “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and I fear Thou played’st most foully for ’t.”(act 3, scene 1, pg 1). Banquo’s suspicion evidently leads to his death as Macbeth has him murdered before the banquet.
Shakespeare uses sleep not as a peaceful resting state, but to reveal Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s guilty consciences. Macbeth is given prophecies throughout the play that prove his guilt and shame. In the beginning, Macbeth’s hunger for power is ignited by the prophecies from the witches. He likes the scheme of killing Duncan so he will be closer to the throne. As the play continues, he realizes how dreadful they actually are.
This is proven in his monologue before he orders the murder of Banquo: “Our fears in Banquo stick deep; and in his royalty of nature reigns that which would be fear 'd: 'tis much he dares; and, to that dauntless temper of his mind, he hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour to act in safety.” (Shakespeare: Act 3-Scene 1). This is a distinct change in how Macbeth approaches the act of murder. Instead of hallucinating himself into the deed, he actually manages to coax himself into putting out the order for Banquo’s death. This is a very noticeable signal that his active mind has begun to desensitize the immorality behind these acts thus contributing to the argument that he is now completely
This ambitious nature and craving for power is also demonstrated only moments after hearing the witches, when he starts formulating a plan to kill Duncan in order to make the third prophecy come true. “If good, why do I yield to that suggestion[killing Duncan]/Whose horrid image doth unify my hair” (I, III, 144-145). This quote indicates that the force of ambition is so strong within Macbeth that even he himself cannot understand why it is making him think of killing Duncan. Likewise, Macbeth’s ambition to become king is further emphasized after Duncan names his son Malcolm as his successor. Here, Macbeth says that he will have to “oerleap,/For in my way it [Malcolm] it lies” (I, III, 55-57).
Unlike Oedipus, after realizing the accuracy of his prophecy, instead of avoiding all possible negative actions, Macbeth devises a plan with the help of his wife to murder Duncan in order to fulfil the dark prophecy. However Macbeth’s weak character becomes provoked by a disappearing dagger, which he hallucinates before the murder of Duncan. The further Macbeth travels the path of corruption, the further he travels from reality, and illusions become his truth. Macbeth acts upon his illusions and as he hears the Lady Macbeth’s bell he questions whether Duncan will go to heaven or to hell, a choice Macbeth lost (Shakespeare 2.1.75-77). Throughout the play Shakespeare illuminates Macbeth’s escape from reality.
Later on in the play, Macbeth asserts his right over Lady Macbeth, flipping their dynamic, and distances himself from her,"be innocent of the knowlded dearest chuck." He no longer confides in his most trusted confidant showing his descension into paranoia and obsession with control. The natural order of the universe is disrupted when they murder the king and chaos it unleashed. This is shown in the aftermath: Macbeth hallucinates, Lady Macbeth
The production revolves around a guilt-ridden man, who falls deep in the rabbit hole of insanity. Perhaps the greatest example of Macbeth’s insanity is his hallucination preceding the murder of Duncan: “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” (II, i, 33-35). With Macbeth’s accounts of events being cast into doubt, the line between reality and illusion is blurred when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo in his seat. Although Banquo’s ghost is most likely Macbeth’s insanity, the possibility that the ghost is there simply to torture Macbeth, as he believes that “It will have blood, they say.
The theme of ambition is clearly seen from the several hallucinations that Macbeth experiences throughout the play. Moments before the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth imagines a bloody dagger with the handle pointing towards his hand, and said dagger guides him into Duncan’s room before vanishing. While following the dagger, Macbeth says to himself, “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.” (2.1.47-50) The dagger strengthens Macbeth’s conviction to murder the king. The dagger prompts Macbeth to hold its handle, guides him to Duncan’s room, and splotches of blood materialize to confirm that the king will die.