Soliloquies are often used in Shakespeares plays. A soliloquy is when a character voices their thoughts when alone on stage. I have studied three different soliloquies from the play Macbeth. The first is taken from Act 1, scene V. The second soliloquy is taken from Act 1, scene VII. And the last soliloquy is taken from Act 2, scene I. These examples of the soliloquies we have used allow us to see what state of mind the character is in at certain parts of the play, also I think it allows us to see what type of person the character really is and understand them better.
The first soliloquy is used as Duncan arrives at Macbeths castle, Lady Macbeth has already decided by this point that the only way Macbeth can become king of Scotland is if they kill Duncan. The soliloquy is her preparing herself for what she is about to do and also asking the spirits to give her the strength to do it.
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
Tha tends on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fil me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop up th access and passage to remorse¦
Act 1, Scene V
In the opening lines of the soliloquy you can already see that Lady Macbeth is a strong-minded woman but believes that men are stronger than women and in order to complete her task she must be as strong as a man. Evidence for this is the lines Come, you spirits Tha tends on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, Lady Macbeth is calling on the spirits to turn her into a man and make her strong. However I believe that Lady Macbeth was stronger and more determined than Macbeth. There is evidence in the other two soliloquies that Macbeth is in two minds about murdering Duncan.
¦This even-handed justice
Commends thingrediants of our poisond chalice
To our own lips. Hes here in double trust
First as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; and then as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself¦that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet tongud , against
The deep damnation of his taking off¦
Act 1, scene VII
¦I go, and it is done: the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan, for it is knell
That summons thee to Heaven, or to Hell
Act 2, scene I
These examples show just how unstable the mind of Macbeth is. In Act 1, scene VII Macbeth is talking about how Duncan trusts him and how he should protect Duncan from harm, not be the one who kills him! This is shown in the lines Hes here in double trust and Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself . However in Act 2, scene I Macbeth is prepared to go through with the deed, no matter what the consequences are.
From the soliloquies you can also see what the character is like. It is in my opinion that Macbeth is compassionate to his friend and does not want to hurt him, however he is also over come with greed. He wants the wealth and power that comes with being king and will, perhaps, do anything to get it if prompted. These two views make his mind unstable and weak so that it can be manipulated by Lady Macbeth. I believe that lady Macbeth is an evil woman who will do anything to get what she wants. An example of this is part of a conversation that Lady Macbeth had with Macbeth when she thinks that he will not kill Duncan
I have given suck, and know
How tender t is to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked the nipple from his boneless gums,
And dashd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
Act 1, Scene VII
What she is saying in this quote is that she would take a baby that was feeding from her and kill it in the most horrific way if Macbeth wanted her to. I think only a truly evil woman can say this and mean it, only an evil woman would kill her baby.
Shakespeare used various images through out this play. Both in Lady Macbeths soliloquy and Macbeths soliloquies there are strong witchcraft, nature and baby images. I think the strongest images in the soliloquies are the baby images. I believe that these worked the best because people generally have strong feelings no babies, especially if the baby is being harmed in some way. A baby can also be used as a symbol of innocence; a child looks at the world with innocence in their eyes. It is in my opinion that Shakespeare used the images of a baby for several reasons.
The first reason is to get the audience emotionally involved in the play, if they see an image of a baby being hurt then they are going to dislike that particular character, however if the image is a good image of a baby then the audience are less likely to dislike that character. And the second way is to show the differences and similarities between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. When Macbeth uses an image of a baby it is filled with compassion and love, however when Lady Macbeth uses the image of babies it is filled with greed and cruelty.
I believe this because of certain lines used through out the soliloquies. In Act 1, Scene VII Macbeth quotes And Pity, like a newborn babe, Macbeth uses a baby as a symbol of innocence to gain pity from the audience. In Act 1, Scene VII Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth I have given suck, and know how tendert is to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashd the brains out, This is filled with hatred which she is using to pressurise Macbeth into killing Duncan. It also shows that they think in similar ways even though they have different views.
As Shakespeare was writing for an English audience Macbeth is very pro English, anti Scottish. It is a Scottish thane, who is easily corrupted by promises of power and fortune who becomes King and it is an English army, which over throws the evil Scottish king and restores peace throughout the land.
I believe that soliloquies are a good way to know what is going on in a characters head. It allows us to know what they are thinking and feeling through out the play. With out soliloquies we would have to rely on facial expressions to know what the character is thinking. If we did this then I believe that plays and theatre would not be as popular as they are and the works of Shakespeare such as Twelfth night, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummers night dream and Hamlet would never have become the classics that they are.