One of the most significant junctures of the play is when Macbeth contemplates the actual act of murder against Duncan--his king, his house guest, his own blood. This climatic moment captures the acute internal conflict Macbeth is experiencing between his own cupidity and lust for power, and his humanity and morality. One of the great overall themes of Macbeth is fate. Are Macbeth’s actions of his own accord, or are they beyond his control from the very beginning? Are his acts of betrayal and cruelty destined to occur? The moment before his act of treachery against the fair and just Duncan, Macbeth visualizes a floating dagger, suspended in the air, and leading him towards his king. Macbeth is conscious of the fact that the dagger is most likely just a figment of his imagination, however, this psychological vision encourages Macbeth to complete the assassination. He addresses the dagger as such, stating, “Is this a dagger, which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art thou but a dagger ...
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...horrendous crime in order to take power; when he is haunted by the ghost of his conscious; and, finally, when Lady Macbeth is unable to move beyond her profound remorse of her sins. The drama is only farther heightened by the suspense that is created through the fact that the reader knows their culprability, as the other characters present in the play, such as Lady Macbeth’s physician and the banquet guests, are unaware of the horrible things they have done. They are fundamental when it comes to acknowledging the presence of the subconscious in the character’s actions. Whether it be toward the beginning of the play, when the vision of the dagger encourages Macbeth to satisfy his insatiable appetite, or toward the end when both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are tormented by their actions, it is the underlaying theme of guilt, recognized or not, that slowly tears them down.
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