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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 493

     (3) It vanishes the second time on his making a violent effort and asserting its unreality:

                   Hence, horrible shadow!
Unreal mockery, hence!

This is not quite so the first time, but then too its disappearance follows on his defying it:

Why what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.

So, apparently, the dagger vanishes when he exclaims, 'There's no such thing!'

     (4) At the end of the scene Macbeth himself seems to regard it as an illusion:

                        My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use.

     (5) It does not speak, like the Ghost in Hamlet even on its last appearance, and like the Ghost in Julius Caesar.

     (6) It is visible only to Macbeth.

     I should attach no weight to (6) taken alone (see p. 140). Of (3) it may be remarked that Brutus himself seems to attribute the vanishing of Caesar's Ghost to his taking courage: 'now I have taken heart thou vanishest'; yet he certainly holds it to be real. It may also be remarked on (5) that Caesar's Ghost says nothing that Brutus's own forebodings might not have conjured up. And further it may be asked why, if the Ghost of Banquo was meant for an illusion, it was represented on the stage, as the stage-directions and Forman's account show it to have been.

     On the whole, and with some doubt, I think that Shakespeare (1) meant the judicious to take the Ghost for an hallucination, but (2) knew that the bulk of the audience would take it for a reality. And I am more sure of (2) than of (1).

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