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Act II, Scene I Annotation

Is this a dagger which I see

before me,

Reinforces Macbeths uncertainty of killing the king as he is seeing the vision of a ghostly dagger.
This Line can be interpreted in many ways. It could mean the dagger is a sign as to whether Macbeth
should continue, or it could mean that it is a final warning of his conscious.

The handle toward my hand?
Come, let me clutch thee.
Apostrophe used in let me clutch thee as he is trying to touch something that isnt actually present.
Questions whether this dagger is real, shows uncertainty in his voice.

I have thee not, and yet I see
thee still.
Paradox: Macbeth has to make sense of a paradox, he plainly sees a dagger, its right there in front of him,
and yet cannot lay his hands upon it.
The plainness of this line helps punctuate the delicate tone of Macbeth as he tries to puzzle through his
vision in the coming lines.
Art thou not, fatal vision,
The dagger is a fatal vision as it foreshadows the death of Duncan at the hands of Macbeth that night. It is
also a fatal vision because it leads to the death of many others including Macbeth himself.
To feeling as to sight? Or art
thou but
Rhetorical Question:
Feeling in this line represents the sense of touch.
The powerful combination of language and Macbeth addressing the dagger as it were a character onstage
forces the audience to imagine the dagger floating in front of him.
A dagger of the mind, a false
Metaphor: used to show Macbeths guilt and doubt, displaying itself as a vision.
He is wondering whether the vision he believes he is seeing is real, or something created by his
The word false is used and can be interpreted in two ways. The first meaning is primarily unreal. It
could also mean deceitful, not to be trusted which is exactly what Macbeth represents.
Proceeding from the heat-
oppressed brain?
heart-oppressed is Shakespeares way of saying fevered. The usage of fevered is another effective and
simple way of imagery.
Shakespeare metaphorically describes and compares his fear to "heat."
I see thee yet, in form as Macbeth begins to acknowledge the dagger again.
palpable Evident repetition in I see throughout the scene.
Palpable means capable of being touch or handled
As this which now I draw. In case verbal imagery wasnt enough for the audience, Macbeth draws his own dagger as supporting
visual imagery.
Comparing a hallucinatory vision to his own dagger, which he draws.

Thou marshallst me the way
that I was going;
Accepts that the dagger was a sign.
Marshall in this context means to guide or to usher. This could mean to guide him to Duncans chamber
or guide him to stop contemplating.

And such an instrument I was
to use.
Instrument in this context means weapon or tool.
Mine eyes are made the fools
o the other senses,
Macbeths observation in this line and the next is that either my sight is being deceived or all my other
senses are.
Personification: He is giving his own eyes feelings and human like qualities.
Or else worth all the rest; I
see thee still,
Macbeth makes another address to the dagger; this signifies a darker turn that the imagery will soon
And on thy blade and
dudgeon gouts of blood,
The blood symbolises Macbeths inner turmoil and feeling of horror about the murder he is about to
In this context dudgeon refers to the handle of the dagger and gout means drops.

Which was not so before.
Theres no such thing:
This line means that Macbeth has finally attempted to resolve his inner conflict, saying that it was not
there before therefore it doesnt have any meaning or impact.
It is the bloody business
which informs
Macbeth tells himself that his mind is playing tricks on him because of the nature of the crime he is about
to commit.
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er
the one halfworld
Hyperbole: exaggerating the fact that half the world seems it is in darkness and is dead mainly because it
is nigh time.
Nature seems dead, and
wicked dreams abuse
Hyperbole: all of nature seems dead
This comparison between sleep and death is a display of Macbeth as he is contemplating murdering
Duncan in his sleep.
Personification: Nature is personified but nature can also mean life. Dreams are also personified
Abuse is said to be referring to a term used to describe a witchs spell.

The curtain'd sleep;
witchcraft celebrates
Personification: saying that the curtains sleep as witchcraft celebrates.
Mentioning the idea of witchcraft, this was a popular topic in the Elizabethan era.
Curtaind referring to curtains around a four post bed.
Pale Hecate's offerings, and
wither'd murder,
Macbeth believes he is under the guidance of the personified murder which is led by supernatural forces.
Hecate is the goddess of witches for the ancient Greeks. This is displaying the supernatural aspect of the
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the
The wolf acting as murders sentential (guard), wolf traditional beast of battle.
Whose howl's his watch, thus
with his stealthy pace.
Reinforces the idea that evil comes calling in the dark of night.
With Tarquin's ravishing
strides, towards his design
Allusion: indirect passing comment without full explanation.
Tarquin was the last king of ancient Rome. He raped women. She told her husband and then killed
herself. Her husband was angry and led a revolt. This quote implies that just like Tarquin was on his was
to rape the women in the chamber; Macbeth is on his way to kill Duncan also in the chamber.
Moves like a ghost. Thou
sure and firm-set earth,
Simile: Something is haunting him like a ghost.

Hear not my steps, which
way they walk, for fear
Apostrophe: asking everyone to ignore him and the sound of his steps as he makes his way to Duncans
Thy very stones prate of my
Macbeth believes that the stones are warning of his approach.
And take the present horror
from the time,
Meaning taking opportunity of time which in this context means it is the right time to do the deed.
Which now suits with it.
Whiles I threat, he lives:
That his threats arent resulting in actions. He believes that it is time, and while he threatens to do it King
Duncan is living and nothing is being achieved.

Words to the heat of deeds
too cold breath gives.
Analogy: Comparing words and actions to reinforce that talking about the murder is influencing his
courage to follow through with the crime.
[A bell rings] For dramatic effect.
I go, and it is done; the bell
invites me.
Personification: Saying that the bell is inviting him and signalling him that it is time to commit the crime.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a
Metaphor: The bell is knell, meaning it is a death bell summoning him to Duncans chamber.
That summons thee to
heaven or to hell.
Rhyming Couplet: last two lines are of same length and rhyme (knell,hell) and it completes the thought.
Imagery: displays imagery of heaven/hell.