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Sleep Motifs In Mac Beth Essay

1641 words - 7 pages

Palsgrove 1Kelsey PalsgroveApril 8, 2013Brit Lit2nd DraftSleeplessness to Nightmare to Sleepwalking to Death: The Consequences of Evil Actions in MacbethWilliam Shakespeare's Macbeth tells the tragic story about a great warrior, Macbeth, who gives into temptation to prophecies about him becoming future king by the three witches. After Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, commit the murder of King Duncan, their faith has been decided for them. They experience numerous consequences for their action, which eventually lead to their deaths. Throughout the entire play of Macbeth, sleep, or the lack of sleep, is predominant. Sleep is very crucial in our lives since it keeps our bodies and brains ...view middle of the document...

The characters that have not committed a sin, such as Banquo, are experience the effects of sleeplessness as well. "Hold, take my sword, there's husbandry in heaven;/ Their candles are all out. Take thee that too./ A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,/ And yet I would not sleep:" (2.1. 4-9). Banquo is a good spirit but happens to know about the three witches' prophecies, which are causing him to experience nightmares. He is aware that there is something seemingly evil about what the witches have prophesized, even though they claimed Banquo's sons would become heirs to the throne of Scotland. Banquo's nightmares and sleeplessness are foreshadowing Duncan's murder and developing the theme of guilt.Banquo is not the only one having nightmares, however Duncan is the only one getting sleep. According to Macbeth, "It is the bloody business which informs/ Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half-world/ Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse/ The curtain'd sleep;" (2.1.48-51). The world Duncan is living in is a world of sleep, in which nature does not exist. Macbeth also goes on to explain that the world of sleep is also a world plagued with "wicked dreams" or nightmares. Essentially, these "wicked dreams" will be a consequence of the murder of Duncan. Lord and Lady Macbeth will no longer live in the world Duncan lives in because they will not experience a peaceful sleep throughout the rest of the play.King Duncan seems to be the only one getting a good night rest. Since sleep also symbolizes innocence and purity, King Duncan is getting sleep because he is a holy figure in Macbeth. Duncan is good, while the Macbeths are evil, leading to Duncan being unaware of the evil plots to his murder. "When Duncan is asleep-/ Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey/ Soundly invite him-his two chamberlains" (1.7.61-63). Lord and Lady Macbeth are scheming to murder Duncan in his sleep, so that Macbeth has the ability to become the new king. However, when Macbeth murders Duncan, he is also murdering sleep. Immediately after the murder, Macbeth hears people shout, "'Sleep no more!' to all the house. / 'Glamis hath murdered sleep and therefore Cawdor/ Shall sleep no more! Macbeth shall sleep no more!'" (2.2.41-43). He comes out of the chamber paranoid and insecure. Sleep now symbolizes Macbeth's consequences for the assassination of Duncan. Now that Macbeth has committed a demonic sin, sleep becomes even more of a luxury that no one is experiencing.After the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth begins to feel the immediate consequences. Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep/ In the affliction of these terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead/ Whom we to gain our peace, have sent to peace/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave/ after life's fitful fever he sleeps well. (3.2.17-22)Macbeth's dialogue helps develop the theme that all actions have their consequences and one should rationally...

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