Shakespeare’s Macbeth produces several significant soliloquies. Among them, some appear most meaningful. And one such powerful soliloquy is visible in Act II, Sc. I of the play when Macbeth appeals to earth to ignore or don’t perceive his heinous crime.
The lines containing the soliloquy are –
“Thou sure and firm-set earth,/ Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear/Thy very stones ………….. Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.”
The said soliloquy takes place before Macbeth commits the murder of King Duncan. Before killing the generous King, the tragic hero prefers to evoke the dark-night atmosphere. Next, he pleads to the firm earth not to listen to his footsteps. Macbeth even begs earth not to note or track the direction of these steps.
Macbeth is terrified that if earth hears his footsteps, the very stones will betray or denounce his sure presence. It is his apprehension that if the stones or rocks utter, then the extreme silence of the night will no longer remain quiet. In a word, it will break the quietness of the evil dark atmosphere. And at the same time, it will decrease the horror of the current time.
The tragic hero here unveils the necessity of horror and sinister silence to evoke an atmosphere of terror. He aims to integrate the two properly so that he can fulfill his crime in acute secret. In short, Macbeth doesn’t want the dark moment to lose track of the frightful or dreadful suspicion.
The soliloquy has made it clear that Macbeth is realizing one thing very clearly that time is slipping rapidly. And the time when he is uttering the threat, King Duncan is still very much alive. In short, he doesn’t have much time left in his hand. Therefore, it is not a good choice anymore to waste time and energy in talk. Also, lingering the time unnecessarily will diminish the gravity of the action and its impact. And, to maintain the magnitude of the situation, Macbeth appeals to earth to ignore his presence and not to sense his heinous crime.
It is hard to deny that every word of Macbeth in his utterance unlocks the impression of his nervousness. It shows how a man with a criminal mind is facing a situation of fear and confusion. One reason behind this anxiety could be Macbeth’s first-time preparation to murder a generous human who trusted him with all his belief and hope.
However, instead of the fear and confusion, Macbeth is confident enough to build a solid frame of mind to commit murder. In addition, he knows that he has chosen an uncertain or unpredictable moment. And a minor distraction could divert or discourage him from executing the action that should take place in the warmth of passion. It is a solid inner urge that makes him so desperate to carry out his goal. In addition, Macbeth appeals to earth for smooth execution.