Dagger of the Mind is taken from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which is based on a historical political conflict in Medieval Scotland, surrounding the death (assassination) of King Duncan by Macbeth. The play depicts Macbeth as a good friend and noble warrior, but has succumbed to greed after three witches tells him that he will be king. His wife, just called “Lady Macbeth”, tells him that there is no point in waiting if he will become king anyway. They might as well take the throne from Duncan.
The Dagger of the Mind is delivered as a monologue by Macbeth on the night he is about to stab Duncan. Macbeth hesitates, and is unsure, seeing a dagger floating before him.
The play has been rumored to be “cursed”. Actors and crew doing the play often do not say the name of the play, to prevent accidents from happening. Many famous Hollywood actors have played Macbeth in the theaters and on TV, including notable icons such as Sir Ian Mckellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy (coincidentally all part of the X-Men cast as Magneto and Professor X).
Dagger of the Mind
Act 2. Scene 1.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutchthee.
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.
Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one halfworld
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,
Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.
With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
(a bell rings)
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.
For those who would rather read modernized lines side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can buy No Fear, Shakespeare: Macbeth.