Guilty Conscience In Macbeth

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Shakespeare uses sleep not as a peaceful resting state, but to reveal Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s guilty consciences. Macbeth is given prophecies throughout the play that prove his guilt and shame. In the beginning, Macbeth’s hunger for power is ignited by the prophecies from the witches. He likes the scheme of killing Duncan so he will be closer to the throne. As the play continues, he realizes how dreadful they actually are. “Sleep shall neither night nor day/Hang upon his pent-house lid;/He shall live a man forbid” (I.III.19-21). The witches are discussing their prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth’s co-general in the wars. They are foreshadowing how miserable Macbeth will be after the murders even though he will be king. In this scene the witches also foreshadow how Banquo will be happier than Macbeth but won’t be king. The three witches announce that Banquo’s descendants will be kings. “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater./Not so happy, yet much happier./Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none” (I.III.65-67). It shows the disturbance of peace that Macbeth will later face in his sleep. In contrast, Banquo will be sleeping forever, but happily, as Macbeth will be…show more content…
Duncan is murdered as he sleeps, while Lady Macbeth drugs the servants so they will sleep through the murder and the placement of the knives in their own hands. “Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep/In the affliction of these terrible dreams/That shake us nightly” (III.II.17-19). After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begins to realize the remorse of their actions. “Me thought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!/Macbeth does murder sleep”--- the innocent sleep,/Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care” (II.II.35-37). Macbeth then starts to feel guilty because of his alarming choices. He then grasps the fact of how he has ruined sleep for himself. The sleep symbolizes harmony, harmony that has now been
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