Macbeth, the dagger scene

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Commentary: Macbeth, Act II, Scene I “Is this a dagger which I see before me…”

Macbeth is one of the most famous plays written by William Shakespeare. The play tells the story of Macbeth, Thane of Glamis whose dark ambition will lead him to murder the king and take his crown. This passage is Macbeth’s first soliloquy extracted from the Scene I of Act II, also known as the “dagger scene”. This is the scene that precedes Duncan’s murder.
Many themes are recurring throughout the play and this passage. First, we will deal with illusions and reality and their consequences on Macbeth’s state of mind, then we will move on to order and disorder and finally to the murder Macbeth is about to commit.

In this passage, the theme of illusion and reality is clearly shown. Macbeth is the victim of his illusions. The ultimate questions would be to know if we can rely on our senses and if what we see is real. Those questions are at stake in this passage.
Macbeth asks a lot of rhetorical questions in his soliloquy, the first being “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?” (l.32-33). He doesn’t know what to think about the dagger as shown l.35 “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.” Is the dagger real? He doesn’t understand hence why he starts questioning his senses (l.36-37) “Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight?”. He knows that he can see it but he wonders if he can touch it. The word “vision” is used which emphasises the fact that it is an illusion, an image created by his brain. He then thinks that something might be wrong with him to see such a thing “A dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (l.38-39). In other words, he is starting to doubt himself and wonders if he is becoming crazy and if it could only be his mind tricking him and making him see the dagger.
An allusion to the witches is made (l.51-52) with the word “witchcraft” and the reference to Hecate, a Greek

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