Importance of the First Soliloquy in Macbeth
Following king Duncan's arrival at Inverness,
Macbeth delivers his first major soliloquy. This speech
summarizes his reasons for not wanting to commit murder. It is
also an image of the plot of Macbeth, as it foreshadows the
chain of events that is to follow the murder of Duncan. Although
Macbeth knows that he cannot "trammel up the consequence"
of Duncan's murder and that his actions will have repercussions,
he commits the murder and continues to kill; thus is Macbeth
shown to be a weak character who can be easily convinced to
perform terrible deeds. Although this is not apparent before the
predictions, the moments following them and his homecoming
demonstrate Macbeth's own vulnerability. The important speech
that he delivers summarizes the results of Duncan's murder, and
the multitude of murders following this all follow suit. Macbeth's
eventual deterioration is inevitable.
Near the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed
as a brave soldier and a noble officer in the king's army. He
successfully leads the attack upon the invading forces of
Macdonwald, the Thane of Cawdor, and Sweno, king of
Norway. He is killing upon the order of another, in this case, the
king: "[Macbeth] Like valour's minion carv'd out his passage/Till
he fac'd the slave" (I.ii.19-20). Macbeth here appears as a
powerful warlord who, although at times seems bloodthirsty, is
effective in destroying the foe. Before his meeting with the
witches, we have a rather clean view of him; he is a "good"
When Macbeth and Banquo stumble onto the barren
plateau where the witches live, they are both about to have their
lives changed forever. When the witches deliver their
prophecies, Macbeth and Banquo have significantly different
Macbeth. This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good; if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature?
Banquo. That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But Ôtis strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.
Macbeth allows himself to be overridden by this "horrid image"
of him murdering Duncan. If he were to have a...