Macbeth 2.1 Commentary

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Macbeth Commentary: Macbeth’s Conflict
In Macbeth’s soliloquy of act II scene 1, William Shakespeare affectively utilizes symbolism, allusions, and personification to depict the conflicting elements of fate versus freewill on Macbeth’s decision. Shakespeare uses the hallucination of the dagger to symbolize the beginning of Macbeth’s descent into madness, a point where he is unable to make rational decisions. Macbeth describes the dagger as a “fatal vision” (2.1.36) which is significant as it shows that he is hallucinating and that he feels that death is imminent. Also Macbeth portrays the dagger as both “a false creation,” (2.1.38) something that is not there, and “palpable,” (2.1.40) something that seems that he could be able to touch it. This shows how he is slowly becoming mad. He blames the vision of the dagger on his “heat-oppressed brain,"(2.1.39) which shows that it is the pressure of the conflicting fate and freewill that is causing him to lose his mind. The fact that Macbeth is unable to think rationally highlights how it is fate influencing his decision. Shakespeare uses the allusion to Tarquin to illustrate his freewill in the matter of Duncan’s assassination. Tarquin was a roman prince who snuck into a married woman’s chambers and raped her. Macbeth admires “Tarquin’s ravishing strides” (2.1.55) as he “moves like a ghost” (2.1.56). The fact that Macbeth wants to sneak into Duncan’s bedchambers and get away with a crime, as Tarquin did, emphasizes Macbeth’s free will in Duncan’s regicide. Shakespeare employs personification of words and deeds to demonstrate Macbeth’s reluctance to kill Duncan. Macbeth is speaking to himself and realizes that “words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives,” (2.1.58) meaning that the longer he speaks the cooler his will to act becomes. Also, the personification of the “bell invit[ing]” (2.1.59) Macbeth and “summoning [Duncan] to heaven or to hell” (2.1.61) is noteworthy because had the bell not rung...
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