Macbeth Commentary; Act Ii Scene I

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Act II, scene 1 takes place in Macbeth’s castle- Castle of Inverness- when Banquo and Fleance encounter Macbeth on their way to bed, who is preparing himself for his grim task. The soliloquy in act II, scene 1 is extremely important because it is the last time we hear Macbeth's thoughts on murdering King Duncan before he actually performs the act. Macbeth is just about to murder King Duncan and is hence about to create an upheaval in the hierarchical state of Scotland. Here, in this scene, the readers/viewers of the play come to know exactly what Macbeth's motives are and we are able to see how power and ambition have corrupted him and have caused him to do something that he would have otherwise never thought of doing (if the witches hadn’t implanted the idea of the evil act in his mind). In this scene Macbeth appears more than preoccupied with the idea of murdering king Duncan and many literary tools and figures of speech in this soliloquy emphasize the state of mind of Macbeth. In the beginning of the soliloquy itself, there are two alliterations which tell us something about the state of mind of Macbeth: “The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.”

Here, the alliteration is on the words: “handle”, “hand” and “come”, “clutch”. Alliteration is used in this context to create an emphasis on the words used. The words “handle” and “hand” are used to create an image of the handle of the dagger being in Macbeth’s hand. This tells us that the time when the dagger will be in Macbeth’s hand (that is to kill King Duncan), is very close. The line “Come, let me clutch thee”, along with having alliteration in it is also an apostrophe. Here, Macbeth addresses the dagger as if it is present at that time and can understand what Macbeth is trying to say. The use of this apostrophe tells us that Macbeth is so “rapt” with the idea of murdering King Duncan, that he actually imagines a dagger in front of him when...
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