Notes on Soliloquy in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Soliloquies in the play Macbeth reflects its major characters’ psyche when characteristically they are speaking to themselves and it reveals their inner conflicts and the working of their consciences.

It is different from monologue which is delivered in the presence of other characters. Soliloquy is an important convention as it reveals the most secret chamber of thoughts in a character.

If not for soliloquies, we were to judge Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in a completely different way. After killing King Duncan when Macbeth reveals the conflict in his conscience aside, we tend to see him more as an individual than simply as a villain. Due to Macbeth’s soliloquies, we understand his tragic fall and learn the morals behind it.

After reading the letter from Macbeth which informs her of the prophecies, lady Macbeth has a soliloquy which informs us of her inner evil right away. We come to understand that even though unattended by the three witches, Lady Macbeth has evil thoughts in her already which she pursues its own sake.

She “fears his nature” which is “full of the milk of human kindness.” It establishes the cruelty inherent in her character and how brutally ambitious she can be even at the cost of humanity.

In her soliloquy, she wishes to “unsex” herself. It reveals to us the condition of women in the society of that age. She demands everything unnatural to interrupt the natural goodness.

Macbeth’s first major soliloquy comes when he is tending himself with the thought to murder Duncan against his conscience which tells him how good Duncan as a king and a person is. He hallucinates of a floating dagger.

From such an imagination, we understand his resolution but we also understand how he is flickering upon that thought. He is mentally weak and his psyche can’t endure the evil he is trying to perform.

By Act 2 Scene II, Macbeth’s soliloquy reveals how guilty he is of the murder he did. He juxtaposes the immensity of his guilt with Neptune’s ocean and even that can’t wash the guilt of blood from his mind. In the play, this soliloquy tells us of Macbeth’s true nature which is in contrast to his destabilising ambition.

In Act 2 and 3, Lady Macbeth starts disintegrating under the duress of conflicts which she feels within her after realising how much she is a culprit in the misdeeds of her husband. These soliloquies of her give the audience a moral lesson of how weak we truly are in front of the presence of the constant tinkering of conscience.

The news of Lady Macbeth’s death makes him utter one of the finest and most famous soliloquies by Macbeth in the play. Unable to deal with the grief, we see his weak inner psyche trying to act in a stoic manner.

He ponders upon the nature and futility of our life when he says that life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” This soliloquy signals us of Macbeth’s final disintegration. Soliloquies in Macbeth helps us know the real personality of the characters in the play which form the visible actions of them isn’t so easy to know.

Their inner thoughts surface in front of us. The images they employ in their soliloquies tells us of their imaginative capacity and how it is in relation to their scope for ambition. It elucidates the depth of the play and through these, we also understand how we, in the end, may think of our own actions in our own lifetime.

Soliloquy in this play reveals the true characteristics of the persons in the play and how we mortals go through constant conflicts and to be weak is to give in to the lure of the evil on this earth.