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Macbeth/ Act II/ Scene II
Macbeth's famous soliloquy at the beginning of this act introduces an important theme: visions and hallucinations caused by guilt. The "dagger of the mind" that Macbeth sees is not "ghostly" or supernatural so much as a manifestation of the inner struggle that Macbeth feels as he contemplates the regicide. It "marshal[s] [him] the way [he] was going," leading him toward the bloody deed he has resolved to commit, haunting and perhaps also taunting him (II i 42). The same can be said for the ghostly voice that Macbeth hears after he kills Duncan, as well as the ghost of Banquo that appears in Act 3. Indeed, almost all the supernatural elements in this play could be—and often are—read as psychological rather than ghostly occurrences. (But if this is the case, one also wonders about the witches: are they, too, products of Macbeth's fevered mind? The fact that merely give voice to the Macbeth’s dormant ambitions would seem to confirm this idea, but this is countered by the fact that Banquo also sees the same witches and hears them speak.)
The "dagger of the mind" is only one of many psychological manifestations in the play. As the bodyguards mutter “God bless us” in their drunken stupor, Macbeth finds that he is unable to utter the prayer word “Amen.” A psychological literary analyst may perceive this as a physical inability to speak, caused by Macbeth's paralyzing doubt about the correctness of the murder. The inner world of the psyche thus imposes itself on the physical world. The same can be said for the voice that Macbeth hears crying "Macbeth shall sleep no more" (II ii 41). An overwhelming sense of guilt will prevent “innocent sleep” from giving Macbeth respite from his tormented conscience. While he has consigned Duncan to eternal rest, he himself lives now in eternal anxiety.