Macbeth Literary Analysis
The Soliloquies of Macbeth Many times in a play, a character, usually alone on stage and pretending that the audience is not there, thinks out loud. This type of action is called a soliloquy: “An instance of talking to or conserving with oneself or of uttering one’s thoughts aloud without addressing any person” (Oxford English Dictionary).
A remarkable author, William Shakespeare, uses the soliloquy technique in his famous playwright, The Tragedy of Macbeth. In this tragedy, many of Shakespeare’s soliloquies target around Macbeth, revealing important aspects about himself. The first soliloquy expresses Macbeth’s conscience, “indecision, and his fierce inner conflict” (Richard 383). He is dealing with the internal conflict of “pity and horror at killing the virtuous Duncan” (Jorgensen 8:90).
In this soliloquy, Shakespeare defines Macbeth’s agonizing imagination: “Besides, this Duncan/ Hath born his faculties so meek, hath been/ So clear in his great office, that his virtues/ will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against/ The deep damnation of his taking-off;/ And pity, like a naked newborn babe,/ Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin horsed/ Upon the slightest couriers of the air,/ Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,/ That tears shall drown the wind” (Shakespeare I:7:16-25).
This best describes Macbeth as being directed into conflicts by prophesies of the three witches. Macbeth is a grief-stricken man with a wounded heart that is bleeding for someone else. The second soliloquy is found in the beginning of Act II, where Macbeth is seen alone with a “dagger” in his hand. Macbeth is giving into evil and the “terror in his soul and his inability to recover his lost innocence” (Richard 383) is revealed. He lets the illusion of the dagger affect him greatly by talking about satanic images of witchcraft.
Shakespeare verbalizes the evil spirits as he goes on to write: “…witchcraft celebrates/ Pale Hecate’s offerings, and withered murder,/ Alarmed 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” (Shakespeare: II:2:51-56). Mabillard sums up the quoted soliloquy by documenting: “Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and a strong presence in Macbeth, is preparing her acrificial victims, and Murder himself, called by his trustful watchman, the wolf, moves with the power and speed of evil king Tarquin near his prey” (Mabillard). The witchery turns Macbeth into an evil murderer. Lastly, there is another one of Shakespeare’s soliloquies that describes Macbeth. Jorgensen explains what is happening pertaining to this soliloquy: “Macbeth becomes king. But the ‘settled’ is deeply ironic, for he will be more driven in restless ecstasy to seek final security” (Jorgensen 8:91).
This meditative kind of speech can be found in the beginning of Act III, where Macbeth specifies his own great loss: “For Banquo’s issue have I filed any mind;/ For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered;/ Put rancors in the vessel of my own peace/ Only for them, and mine eternal jewel/ Given to the common enemy of man,/ To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings! ” (Shakespeare III:1:65-70). The killings lead Macbeth into “being accommodated to his murderous career” (Richard 383).
Richard Sime also states that: “This suffering Macbeth is experiencing describes the person Macbeth has become” (Richard 383). At this point, the evil in Macbeth has definitely outweighed the good. Without Shakespeare’s choice of technique, the audience will not fully understand what Macbeth does to become who he is. The reader can see how Macbeth’s character changes throughout the period of time by seeing and hearing the feelings revealed by the use of soliloquies. Therefore, in Macbeth, “the inner spiritual catastrophe parallels the outer physical catastrophe” (Richard 383).