Discuss the Soliloquies in the play “Macbeth” by Shakespeare

Soliloquy is a great device to provide the hidden thought of the characters. Shakespeare’s soliloquy is the self-expression for informing the audience. It identifies their characters, explains their double role. It links the scenes and bridges the gulf between them with exposition, narration, prologue, commentary, chorus and so on. Shakespeare blooms the soliloquies in the dramatic structure of a vital point. It helps us to bring up the subconscious mind. So soliloquies are the blue gems of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Macbeth’s soliloquy starts with Act-I, scene (iii) with the prophecies the weird sisters. Macbeth aside on ‘my thoughts’ whose murder yet is fantastical reveals his mental workings just after the fulfillment of the witches’ prophecies. His famous soliloquy “If it were done, when it is done,” is an eloquent expression of his mental ambivalence. He is dealing with the consequences of murder. His mind is working on the two planes. He fears moral isolation and judgment of the human heart. Ambition is his only incentive and vaulting ambition like a rackless rider who overleap and falls dawn. Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor are achieved only the last wish to become the king remains unfulfilled. To achieve the goal he asks stars to hide their fires.

“Stars hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires.”

The next soliloquy is found in Act-I, Scene (iv) where we get the reaction to Duncan’s declaration of Malcolm to be the King of Scotland. These words struck him violently. He contemplates evil surgery to fulfill his desire. Macbeth again reveals his conscience oscillation between thought and action.

We can also get soliloquy in Act- I, Scene (vii) where we can get the pros and cons of murdering Duncan. He is in the position of Hamlet’s “to be or not to be.” Murdering Duncan is a great sin to him. But not to murder is to kill his desire. So this soliloquy shows the horrifying death of his mind.

We have also another soliloquy in Act – III, Scene I where he is afraid of Banquo’s royal nature. Banquo is the enemy to stand against his ambition. If the witches’ prophecies come to true, so his path would be full of thorns. Macbeth’s address to the dagger which is visible in the air pointing to Duncan’s chamber is an expression of inward convulsions. He identifies himself with the witches, thief, and Tarquin who ravished the innocent Lucrecia.

Towards the end of the drama, Macbeth gives vent to his heart-sickness and sense of futility and alienation. He pines for the loss of honour, love, obedience, and troops of friends. He realizes painfully how life is-

“I have lived long enough : my way of life
Is fallen into the sear the yellow leaf:
And that which should accompany old age.”

After Lady Macbeth’s death, Macbeth mourns and feels-

“Tomorrow, and to-morrow and to-morrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time.”

To him, life is a passing illusion. Life’s sap is dry and hankers a fruitless journey-

“Out ! out! Brief candle
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets: his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more it is a tale
Told by an idiot full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.”

Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy starts with the summons of the spirits-

“Come you spirits
That tend on moral thoughts! Unsex me here
……come to my woman’s breasts’.
And take my milk for gall you murdering ministers.”

She also invokes night to her to appease her thirst for fulfillment.

-“Come, thick night
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark.”

Banquo’s two soliloquies revealed his disturbed mind. He appeals to the merciful powers to restrain in his cursed thoughts. In the second soliloquy, he is encouraged by the hope of fulfillment of two prophecies in the case of Macbeth. He yields two temptations, but he says ‘hush no more.’

Shakespeare’s soliloquy gives the vital dose to create penetrating insight into the human characters. They give to the play the inwardness, the introspection, the poetic fitness, the catharsis the capability of Shakespeare’s master gives the intellectual soliloquies of the Elizabethan field. Soliloquies are common but such soliloquy are