Written Commentary 1
Analysis of Macbeth’s Soliloquy in Act I Scene VII
All throughout his play, ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare excogitates the inevitable obliteration emanating from unrestrained ambition. He exposes in Act I Scene VII, the inner turmoil which plagues Macbeth succeeding the witches’ prophecy of his future as King of Scotland. A glimpse into Macbeth’s soul in this soliloquy enables the audience to analyze Macbeth’s character and state of mind at that specific moment, to gain a better perspective of Duncan’s character, to acquire information necessary to follow the play, and to foreshadow Macbeth’s future actions. These four purposes of Macbeth’s first soliloquy will be further discussed in the following.
To commence, Macbeth’s character can be explored through his use of words, allowing the audience to unearth his dwelling internal conflict. The construction of the soliloquy shows the working of a greatly ambitious soul very much still in confusion. This discrepancy is exposed by the repetitive use of words such as “if”, hinting self-doubt, “were”, “done”, “but”, and “here” whilst Macbeth professes his willingness to risk eternal damnation; “jump the life to come” to assassinate Duncan if there were no repercussions; yearning for the battle-field’s consequence-free action. The adoption of the term “assassination” as opposed to “murder”, suggests that Macbeth cannot bring himself to utter the word and is conscious of the solemnity of committing regicide. The resort to pronouns such as “it” referring to assassination, “his” (line 4), and “he” (line 12), designating King Duncan, reveals his reluctance to clearly analyze his thoughts at first. Conversely, as the soliloquy reaches its end, Macbeth’s reflections become more lucid when he articulates Duncan’s name for the first time (line 16). Further, when stating that “upon the bank and shoal of time”, adopting a metaphor which compares time to a...
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