Theme Of Fear In Macbeth

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The Fearful Lady Macbeth A person’s emotional response to a situation depicts their next course of action. One powerful emotion is fear. The Oxford Dictionary defines fear as an unpleasant emotion, caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth fear is a prominent theme as it follows Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s rise to power and their ultimate demise. The theme of fear altered Lady Macbeth’s mindset from a fearless women, to paranoid and then finally afraid of herself. In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is a fearless woman. She is so desperate to become queen she becomes blinded to the gravity of her actions. It is Lady Macbeth’s plan to kill Duncan and frame the servants. To kill a king is a very risky move,…show more content…
The theme of fear turns against her and she feels tormented by the darkness. This is evident when Gentlewomen tells the Doctor, “She has a light by her continually ‘tis/ her command.” (Macbeth 5.1.20-21) In act one, Lady Macbeth calls to the darkness and now she’s avoiding it. She is so afraid of the dark; she needs a burning candle nearby at all times. She finally feels the effects of her dark actions and lets fear into her life. Similar to a child, Lady Macbeth fears what’s lurking in the darkness, and takes precautions to prevent finding out. She lives in a guarded castle, but her paranoia makes her feel unsafe. Lady Macbeth’s paranoia even extends to her dreams. Lady Macbeth associates royalty with happiness however, Macbeth describes their royal lifestyle saying, “Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep/In the affliction of these terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly.” (Macbeth 3.2.20-22) Lady Macbeth is afraid to fall asleep in fear of having another nightmare. Her paranoia prevents her from enjoying her life as queen and her past sins seem useless. She feels happier being the wife of a thane, than she feels being a queen. Fighting back her fears is becoming harder as they move into her unconscious mind. She is sleep deprived and scared of the dark; a conflicting situation. Out of all her paranoia, the one thing Lady Macbeth is most afraid of is…show more content…
Her fear consumes her life and as a result she starts to sleepwalk. While sleepwalking Lady Macbeth talks to herself and says, “What, / will these hands ne’er be clean?” (Macbeth 5.1.38-39) She’s afraid of her past sins and troubled by the destruction they have caused. Lady Macbeth is terrified she can never fully cleanse her soul and will be stuck with this guilty conscience forever. While sleepwalking she relives the night of Duncan’s murder, this time experiencing the fear of committing such a crime. She despises what she’s done, and hates herself for it every day. Her sleepwalking is a form of punishment for her sins. Lady Macbeth’s self-hatred becomes too difficult to live with it and she takes her own life. This is evident when Malcolm says, “By self and violent hands. /Took off her life,” (Macbeth 5.9. 37-38). Lady Macbeth surrenders to her feelings of fear and guilt through suicide. She blames herself for Scotland’s suffering and thinks they are better off without her. She feared herself, but most importantly feared her life. Her life was full of constant struggle since Duncan’s murder and she wanted to relieve herself of the pain. Fear made her life horrible and she could no longer escape the feeling. To kill herself seemed necessary to atone for her actions. In conclusion, the theme of fear motivated a dramatic change
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