Essay On Sleep In Macbeth

539 Words3 Pages
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, sleep is used in every act, in both literal and figurative forms. Shakespeare had a tendency to use sleep in a figurative manner more often than his use of literal sleep. These examples can all illustrate the way sleep is discussed regarding the timeline of King Duncan’s life; before his death, during his death, and after his death when Macbeth becomes king. In scene 1 of act 2, Lady Macbeth discusses her plans to murder King Duncan. She said to her husband “That memory, the warder of the brain,/ Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason/ A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep/ Their drenchèd natures lies as in a death,/ What cannot you and I perform upon/ Th’ unguarded Duncan?” (2.1). Lady Macbeth talks about her plan to provide alcohol for the chamberlains, and how they will be sleeping after their heavy drinking, and use this advantage to make killing the king easier. Sleep is used literally to describe the chamberlains being unconscious. The first example of a figurative sleep in Macbeth is spoken by Macbeth to Lady Macbeth. He, along with his wife, are…show more content…
Clearly, sleep is a major motif in Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. The word sleep alone is used over thirty times, with similar words pertaining to sleep such as rest and dream being used another twenty times. Throughout the short story of Macbeth, Shakespeare writes about sleep literally almost as often as figuratively, using sleep as a symbol of the king, comfort and well-being, all good things considering the gruesome events throughout the book. Macbeth’s direct involvement with the King’s murder left him losing sleep and feeling a false sense of security that would eventually lead to his own
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