Macbeth Essay

Submitted By NursingStudent19
Words: 1507
Pages: 7

Murder and Insanity in Macbeth The act of murder is perplexing to the individual committing the crime, driving them insane with guilt. Shakespeare uses murderous acts to portray the effect murder has on its characters. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it is easily seen that the murder of Duncan is what causes Lady Macbeth to go insane, and eventually kill herself. Although it was not Macbeth’s idea to murder Duncan to take his place as king, he was talked into it by Lady Macbeth and ended up committing the murder. Lady Macbeth is very keen on wanting to kill Duncan in order for Macbeth to get the throne. She is very power hungry, and is willing to do anything to get to power. Even having “Plucked [her] nipple from his boneless gums/ And dashed the brains out”, if she had sworn to do this like Macbeth had sworn to become king (1.7.57-58). Lady Macbeth wants to be the queen so strongly that she is willing to do anything to attain it. Since the Weird Sisters have already said that Macbeth’s children will be the heir to the throne, Lady Macbeth will make sure it happens.
Lady Macbeth’s need to be the mother of a line of kings is what is driving her to do such things. This is mainly her want and need for another child in order to fulfill the role of the one who died. Although Lady Macbeth is not a criminal or even a very ambitious woman, her actions are based upon her emotional shocks in the past, and this trauma is causing her to have become very unstable, and to daydream often. In order to follow through the murder without fault, Lady Macbeth planned out everything she was going to do, so that they could put the blame on the king’s guards. She got them drunk in order for them to “mock their charge with snores. [She has] drugged their possets, /That death and nature do contend about them, /Whether they live or die.” (2.2.6-7). Lady Macbeth got the guards drunk but she also drank the alcohol to get herself drunk in order to get the nerves away. She needs to drink the alcohol in order for her to get Macbeth to go through with the murder of Duncan. Isador H. Coriat says that “She is not brave naturally, but a coward at heart,” especially once she hears the first cry of Macbeth from the King’s chamber. She is worried that the guards might not have been drugged enough and woken up. She is extremely paranoid with this entire endeavor and says to Macbeth that “These deeds must not be thought/After these ways. So, it will make us mad.” (2.2.34-35). She knows that if her and her husband begin to think about the murder they just have committed, then it will drive them mad.
While Lady Macbeth seems to take charge of the whole situation, it is in reality, slowly but surely making her insane. She tells Macbeth that he is a coward for feeling guilty about the murder, but in the end, she is the one committing suicide because the guilt has driven her mad. She begins to sleepwalk, during which she is not in control of her actions. She suffers from double personality: while she sleepwalks, she shies away from blood, when in her normal, awake self, she does not outwardly fear it. She also shows remorse and pity while she is in somnambulism, but is cruel when she is awake. In these times of somnambulism, “her innate cowardice becomes dominant,” because her mind is free from all the work it has to do in order to achieve her main goal (Coriat). When Lady Macbeth says “Out damned spot—Out I say,” it is obvious that if she was in her normal state, then she would not be saying that (5.1.25). It is an unconscious and automatic outburst when she is trying to remove the blood stains from her hands. She is seeing the blood on her hands when it is not actually there, she’s feeling so guilty that it’s driving her insane. She sleepwalks mentioning that her hands are stained with blood and that they reek of it. When she talks, she doesn’t make much sense, and her phrases are hard to follow. Lady Macbeth does not remember anything from her sleepwalking