The symbol of Visions and Hallucinations in Macbeth from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Macbeth

Visions and Hallucinations Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Visions and Hallucinations Symbol Icon
A number of times in Macbeth, Macbeth sees or hears strange things: the floating dagger, the voice that says he's murdering sleep, and Banquo's ghost. As Macbeth himself wonders about the dagger, are these sights and sounds supernatural visions or figments of his guilty imagination? The play contains no definitive answer, which is itself a kind of answer: they're both. Macbeth is a man at war with himself, his innate honor battling his ambition. Just as nature goes haywire when the normal natural order is ruptured, Macbeth's own mind does the same when it is forced to fight against itself.

Visions and Hallucinations Quotes in Macbeth

The Macbeth quotes below all refer to the symbol of Visions and Hallucinations. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ambition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Macbeth published in 2003.
Act 1, scene 1 Quotes
Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
Related Characters: Weird Sisters (speaker)
Related Symbols: Visions and Hallucinations
Page Number: 1.1.12-13
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Visions and Hallucinations
Page Number: 2.1.44-53
Explanation and Analysis:
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Visions and Hallucinations Symbol Timeline in Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the symbol Visions and Hallucinations appears in Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, scene 1
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Alone, Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air. He can't grasp it, and can't decide whether it's a phantom... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...seat at the table. When Lennox gestures at a seat, saying it's empty, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost sitting there. Macbeth alone can see the ghost. He astonishes the thanes by shouting at... (full context)
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
The ghost reappears and Macbeth, terrified, starts shouting at it. Lady Macbeth tries to play down her husband's... (full context)