Lady Macbeth Mental Illness Analysis

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Mental illness in Renaissance England was a very harsh subject. It was a horrid time to be considered mentally ill, for the insane were thrown into prison like asylums meant to protect them. There was little understanding of insanity, causing anyone to be considered abnormal by regular social standards to be cast into an asylum. However, mental illness in women was treated much differently than with men, and even then the medical treatments were cruel and unforgiving. Because of this understanding of mental health during the time period, Lady Macbeth’s mental illness was hugely misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Understanding the mind in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was tricky. People deemed insane or mentally ill had two options. They …show more content…

Because of the compassion she so desperately wanted to be rid of, she could not commit murder. When Macbeth begins to reveal his hallucinations to his wife, she calls him weak. This reflects how people viewed the mentally ill. Even though Macbeth had fallen into insanity, Lady Macbeth would soon fall even further into it. In the final act of Macbeth, a considerable amount of time has passed since the first signs of her descent into mental illness. By this time, Lady Macbeth is afraid of the dark and is sleepwalking. Every night she reenacts washing her hands clean of murder. She goes to the wash bin to scrub her hands raw. Lady Macbeth has fallen into the insanity of guilt. Moving back to mental health, Hysteria was a growing ailment in this time period. It was recognized as a predominant female malady. It was also known as the “suffocation of the mother”. Symptoms arose from displacement from the womb, according to physicians. It had horrible effects that included fits of breathlessness and unconsciousness that mimicked possession and bewitchment. Although they were quite ineffective, the cures for hysteria included: counseling, proper diet, and even sheer

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