Macbeth: Schizophrenic?

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  • Topic: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Macbeth
  • Pages : 3 (1120 words )
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  • Published : March 19, 2002
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Macbeth's tragic downfall into insanity could be modernly diagnosed as the mental disorder schizophrenia. Many of the actions carried out by Macbeth during the play lead the reader to believe that Macbeth is crazy. However, by today's medical standards, Macbeth falls into several of the categories under the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as, "a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought, and conduct." In Act I Macbeth is very uneasy in his and Lady Macbeth's decision to kill Duncan. He says, "We shall proceed no further in this business. For he hath honored me of late." (I.7.31-32) This is an unmistakable example of how Macbeth is not fully confident in his decisions. He feels guilt and anguish, as does Lady Macbeth, for she will not commit the murder herself, due to the fact that King Duncan looks too much like her father. At this point in the play, it is quite questionable as to weather either of the conspirators will consummate to the killings. Duncan's death can be identified as the turning point of Macbeth's sanity. This is when Macbeth starts to clearly display numerous symptoms of schizophrenia. O One of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia is the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Macbeth displays this characteristic as he speaks vehemently to an empty chair, which he believes is the ghost of his old friend Banquo, who he just recently had killed. He says, "Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo! how say you? Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too. If charnel-houses and our graves must send Those that we bury back, our monuments Shall be the maws of kites." (III, 4) Macbeth is the only one to see the ghost, not even the audience is allowed by Shakespeare to see this...
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