Macbeth's Conscience

Topics: Macbeth, Sleep deprivation, William Shakespeare Pages: 3 (1178 words) Published: November 3, 2012
Powerful Conscience
In the play Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, the idea developed is that in life, one’s conscience plays an important role in their decisions and actions, and it is the past and present events which directly affect the behaviour of this conscience, sometimes in a negative way. In Macbeth, Shakespeare use sleep, darkness and blood imagery to demonstrate the role that conscience plays in affecting Macbeth’s decisions, which consequently leads to negative effects, as well as his death.

To begin, the illustration of sleep is used to portray the idea of how Macbeth’s trouble sleeping is affecting his conscience which makes him uneasy and feeling guilty. To start, In Shakespeare’s play, death is seen as a form of sleep where nothing can hurt you anymore. Macbeth thinks to himself about what he has done and knows how his conscience feels when getting no sleep, thinking that, “In the affliction of these terrible dreams /That shake us nightly: better be with the dead, /Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, /Than on the torture of the mind to lie /In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave, /After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well,” (Shakespeare 3.2. 20-25). Due to the fact that Macbeth can no longer sleep due to the murder of Duncan, he is still able to be hurt while Duncan rests safely. He describes how it would be better be dead than live in a “restless ecstasy”, where he feels guilty and tortured. This foreshadows that Macbeth may face death soon and be put into a state of rest and safety. Similarly, Macbeth hears voices which show how no sleep is a suitable punishment for the crimes he has committed. They scream and cause him to feel frightened at the fact that he will no longer be able to sleep. He knows this when they declare,” ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house: / ‘Glamis hath murder’d sleep: and therefore Cawdor /Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more!’”(Shakespeare 2.2. 54-56). Macbeth has murdered Duncan, and...
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