Meaning of the soliloquy:In this soliloquy, Macbeth hallucinates, and sees an imaginary dagger, a “dagger of the mind” (II, i, 50).
Before this, Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to murder King Duncan, whom he has been so loyal to for many, many years. After hearing from the witches that he could potentially become king, somewhere deep inside of him, Macbeth hopes that this prophecy will come true. In order to make this prophecy a reality, it is necessary to murder Duncan, but Macbeth is not mentally ready for it. He is scared of killing, and when the night finally comes, Macbeth hallucinates. He sees a dagger, “marshall’sting him the way that he was going,” which is towards Duncan’s sleeping chamber (II, i, 60). He feels torn between guilt and temptation about the murder.
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Importance to the events and themes of the play:This soliloquy is important because it gives a clear view of Macbeth’s character development and the current status quo. Also, the dagger itself is a symbol of conscience. It floats in the air representative of those things which will take place. The King has not yet been murdered, but the dagger foreshadows his death. Macbeth hasn’t yet murdered Duncan, but yet his conscience is already riddled with guilt.
The dagger symbolizes what will be and the darkness that will follow.