Soliloquy in Macbeth's Act I, Scene VII

Pages: 6 (1800 words) Published: April 28, 2010
Even from the beginning of the scene, Macbeth's uncertainty about the murder is clear. Macbeth debates with his inner self in a soliloquy. Shakespeare often uses soliloquies to show Macbeth's inner thoughts, for example in Act 2 Scene 1 and Act 3 Scene 1. Soliloquies allow the audience to understand a character's motives better. The character is not putting on a show for anyone else but being their true self. We see directly into their thought process.

In the first few lines of this soliloquy, Macbeth considers "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly;" What Macbeth seems to mean by this is that if the business of the murder could be finished as soon as the deed was done, it would be good to have it finished swiftly. Clearly however, such actions do have many consequences and the rest of the speech makes it clear that Macbeth is only too aware of these.

When, indeed, Macbeth refers to "bloody instructions", we can see that he realises what an immoral and terrible deed it is to murder. In my opinion, the image of these "bloody instructions" coming back to haunt "the inventor" is particularly vivid. It is also rather ironic, as this is exactly what happens to himself and Lady Macbeth later in the play, especially in the banquet scene.

I think it is noticeable how, throughout the soliloquy, Macbeth avoids using the words "murder" or "death". Instead, he uses euphemisms such as "surcease", "assassination","the deed" and "taking off". I suspect that he wants to hide from himself the true meaning of his actions.

Macbeth's internal debate continues, he looks for reasons against the murder:

"He's here in double trust;

First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,

Strong both against the deed; then, as his host"

The theme of trust is especially evident in this short quotation. Macbeth sees he has a duty to protect Duncan, both as his kinsman and as his host. He can see that to violate this trust would be to violate his own moral code. Of course he shouldn't really need these 'extra' reasons - the reason he shouldn't murder Duncan is not because he has some duty to protect him, but because to murder is unquestionably wrong.

Macbeth however continues along the same lines, now considering Duncan's kingship. He asserts that Duncan "hath borne his faculties so meek" and this is very difficult to deny. Duncan has certainly been a fair and good king, rewarding those loyal to him with titles - such as Macbeth's thaneship. Later in the soliloquy, Macbeth compares Duncan‘s many virtues to "angels, trumpet-tongu'd" in a simile. The poetic language adds impact to this 'heavenly' image, which is in striking contrast to the 'hellish' language Macbeth associates with Duncan's death - "deep damnation".

In the final few lines of the soliloquy, Macbeth acknowledges that he has no motive to act, except for the over-riding one of his own ambition. Shakespeare has used the metaphor of a horse to describe Macbeth's ambition as "vaulting". This is particularly effective in describing how Macbeth could "o'er-leap" himself and so end up falling. The use of the actual word "o'er-leap" is likewise interesting. Macbeth has used it previously in the play - when, in Act 1 Scene 4, Malcolm was named as heir to the throne, Macbeth remarked to himself :

"The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step

On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap"

In line 25, Macbeth mentions that he has "no spur / To prick the sides of my intent" This is perhaps failing to realise the obvious. With the entrance of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth will certainly be spurred a great deal.

Indeed, as soon as Lady Macbeth enters, the mood and the pace of the scene changes. She immediately launches into Macbeth:

"Why have you left the chamber?"

Her tone is scolding, as if she were talking to a young child. She is clearly angry with Macbeth for what she considers irresponsible actions. By leaving the table he has unnecessarily...
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