Macbeth's Nightmare

657 Words3 Pages

“In Shakespeare’s day there were two views held concerning the nightmare. Some of the priests and most of the folk held that the disease was caused by evil spirits, either incubi or succubi, who [posess] the body at night since they are not able to prevail during the day” (118). Throughout the Elizabethan era, it was a common belief that nightmares were a type of illness that inflicted upon one’s sleep. These nightmares were a result of behavior that lacks good judgement. Spirits take over the body which instill a fear when one is supposed to be resting asleep. Macbeth suffers a living nightmare during the day and throughout the night because he cannot mask the shame for what he has committed. He is faced to defeat his demons and must fight …show more content…

He is immediately filled with guilt directly after he kills Duncan and hears, “a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!/ Macbeth does murder sleep’-the innocent sleep” (II.ii.47-48). Macbeth’s fear that he will never be able to sleep again because he killed the king demonstrates his feelings of madness. Sleep is a symbol of peace, however, after he murders Duncan, he views sleep in a negative connotation. However, after he murders Banquo, Macbeth is able to put his worries aside, “and sleep in spite of thunder” (IV.i. 97). After committing two murders he is suddenly able to sleep and is no longer paranoid revealing a shift in character. Since Macbeth is more ambitious and is not affected by killing someone, it can be foreshadowed that he will have more victims further into the play. Macbeth changes his perspective of sleep creating a suspenseful mood as the audience awaits for him to strike another …show more content…

She encourages Macbeth to sleep and hide what they have done by saying, “You lack the seasons of all natures, sleep” (III. Iv.173). Earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth was calm after the murder which exemplifies a difference in gender roles compared to Macbeth who was in agony. The way that they differ from each other is ironic because Macbeth should not be as flustered as Lady Macbeth since he is the man of the house. Later, just after Macduff’s family has been killed, a gentlewoman notifies the doctor about Lady Macbeth’s weird behavior and says, “You see her eyes are open/ Ay, but their senses are shut” (V.i.26-27). At this time, the roles have been reversed which illustrates that the guilt has finally interrupted her sleep, leading to her sleepwalking. Readers sense the tense mood and can predict that Lady Macbeth will reveal or confess the murder she helped carry out. Although Lady Macbeth was more controlled at first, she eventually breaks and can no longer handle the excessive guilt, resulting in her madness in the form of

Open Document