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We have a large number of asides and soliloquies in Macbeth. Although both an aside and a soliloquy are speeches made by a character to himself there is a technical difference between the two. An aside is made by a character privately to himself when others  are present; while a soliloquy is made by a character to himself when he is all alone. These asides and soliloquies are very significant in regard to plot development and character revelation. 

Mcbeth’s asides after hearing the prophecies are in fact soliloquies that amply reveal the secret thoughts of his mind. It was prophesied that Macbeth will be the Thane of Cawdor and the king of Scotland. When he was conferred with the title of the Thane of Cawdor he says to himself in an aside that “The greatest is behind.” Only a moment later, he utters another aside in which he says that the prophecies made by the Witches cannot be evil and cannot be good.

Macbeth speaks another aside just after Duncan nominates his son, Malcolm as the heir to the throne. The naming of the heir to the throne has become a hurdle in the way of his becoming the king of Scotland. To overcome this hurdle the thought of murder comes in his mind which helps the plot move forwards.  

One of the most important of Macbeth’s soliloquies is made when king Duncan has arrived at Macbeth’s castle to stay there as a guest. This soliloquy shows his reflections on the consequences of the murder. Macbeth closes this soliloquy by saying that there is no spur to his intention of murdering Duncan except a soaring ambition, Here we find him hesitating at the last moment, to commit the crime. 

Macbeth makes his another soliloquy when he is about to murder sleeping Duncan. Here he sees a bloody dagger which is actually a hallucination, an expression of his guilty mind. In his next soliloquy, after committing the murder of Duncan, he is completely overwhelmed by the sense of guilt. Looking at his hands covered with blood, he has a feeling that all the water of the great ocean cannot wash the blood from them; on the contrary, the blood on his hands can redden the whole ocean.

There are two brief soliloquies which Macbeth makes on the battlefield before he is killed. In one he compares himself to a trapped  animal a bear tied to a stake and baited by dogs. But he expresses the ( confidence that he fears no man born of a woman. In the other soliloquy he expresses the determination to go ahead and fight and not kill himself. But in the ensuing duel with Macduff, he is killed. 

To conclude we may say that the soliloquy is used by  Shakespeare as a means of character revelation, as a means of advancing the plot, as a means of providing information, as a means  of deepening an emotional effect, and so on.


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