preview

Sanity And Insanity In Macbeth

Good Essays
Shakespeare engineered a most impressionable character in Macbeth who easily succumbs to the extensive magnitude of opposing constraints. This character is Macbeth, who is the protagonist in the play and husband to a conniving wife, who in the end is the sole cause for Macbeth 's undoing. Conflicting forces in the play compel internal conflicts within Macbeth to thrive on his contentment and sanity as he his torn asunder between devotion, aspiration, morality and his very own being. He has developed a great sense of loyalty from being a brave soldier; however, his ambition soon challenges this allegiance. As his sincerity begins to deteriorate, his own sanity starts to disintegrate until the point where he cannot differentiate between reality…show more content…
Similarly, Macbeth 's own mental state initiates a rivalry within itself. The thought of killing Duncan brings Macbeth 's brain into turmoil, causing him to hallucinate. He then questions his own sanity by asking if the imaginary dagger is physical " Or art thou but // A dagger of the mind, a false creation // Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?" (Act2:1:37-39). The imagery used of a brain physically over-heating accentuates the idea that Macbeth is beginning to lose his sanity as his brain can no longer function accordingly due to all the incalescence. Not only does the thought of killing Duncan cause Macbeth to hallucinate but also after having ordered the murder of Banquo, his guilt stricken conscience causes him to see Banquo 's ghost. No one else at the banquet can see the ghost which emphasizes that Macbeth is losing his sanity. Macbeth asks "Which of you have done this" (Act3:4:53) after seeing Banquo 's ghost because he believes one of the guests to be playing a prank on him as he is not aware that his own mind is hallucinating due to all the remorse. Near the end of the play, Macbeth begins to forget the brave and valiant soldier he was as he tells Macduff that he will "not fight with thee" (Act5:8:22) when he is realises that Macduff was foretold to be the one to slay him. His own arrogance then comes into play as he says that he "will not yield" (Act5:8:27) because he refuses to become the laughingstock of the common people. This also shows the reversal…show more content…
Additionally, while the play progresses; Macbeth struggles to comprehend the difference between right and wrong. In Macbeth 's first soliloquy, he is aware that people who do wrong are repaid the same way as the "even-handed justice//commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice//to our own lips" (Act1:7:10-12). The personification of justice being able to use the human ability of commending accentuates the idea that when a person does something wrongful, justice acts as a person to repay the unkind doing with an equivalent punishment. As his mental state deteriorates, he can no longer differentiate if his decisions are sinful or honourable. After hearing the prophecies from the witches, he is indecisive because the revelations "Cannot be ill, [nor they] cannot be good. If ill, //Why hath it given [him] earnest of success, //Commencing in a truth? [he is] thane of Cawdor.//If good, why [does he] yield to that suggestion//... And make [his] seated heart knock at [his] ribs "(Act1:3:130-135). The image of a heart beating uncontrollable at the ribs emphasises the internal struggle as his heart is internally fixed inside him. The thrashing of the heart against the ribs seems as if it is trying to escape, similar to the righteousness within a person, which makes a person good, trying to escape the therein suppressing wrongfulness, which is making the person evil. A heart beating against the ribs would also cause serious pain which is comparable to the torment of having
Get Access