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Macbeth Sleepwalking Scene

By demise281005 Oct 12, 2006 1181 Words
The sleepwalking scene in ‘Macbeth' is hugely significant and important to the play as a whole. It is a contrast to the other main scenes involving Lady Macbeth and marks the end of Macbeth's reign as a tyrant and a king. In the sleepwalking scene we haven't seen Lady Macbeth for some time and she is no longer the character we once knew. We get an insight into her state of mind, her thoughts and her feelings and how she has changed so dramatically. In Act 5 scene 1 we also can see how some repetitive themes in the play are still there, Darkness, Blood and Sleep. In the sleepwalking scene Lady Macbeth is shown to lose her mind and her grip on reality. She sleepwalks because of the stress, guilt and disturbed rest, there is almost an overload of thoughts in her mind and he cannot distance herself from the murders Macbeth committed and she was involved in. It is very difficult not to feel sympathy for Lady Macbeth even though she is responsible for what is happening to her. Despite what she did, we can tell that she only urged Macbeth to murder because of her love for him. Although she encouraged the killing of the king she was not involved with the murders of Banquo or Lady Macduff. Lady Macbeth ends up going crazy because her mind has gradually been disintegrating throughout the play. In the beginning she was strong and ruthless, although she could not murder Duncan because he resembled her father sleeping. Even though we saw a glimmer of humanity when she said this she was still the one who encouraged Macbeth when he began to weaken, "Art thou afeard, to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou art in desire?" (Act 1, Scene 7). She also helped to calm down Macbeth and reassure him when he had committed the deed, " a little water cleanses us of this deed" but in Act 5 scene 1 this reassuring comment returns to haunt her, "all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand". As the play goes on she changes from this strong and ruthless woman into a woman who cannot cope with the evil she is involved with. Lady Macbeth becomes consumed with guilt and everything she has done is forever in her head. Killing Duncan created a "perturbation in nature" and things have not been the same since. In her sleep she speaks of everything that has gone on, thus showing her involvement, Lady Macbeth is to blame for where she is now, and deserves the disturbed sleep, because she helped murder sleep when Duncan was murdered. She was never naturally "a fiend-like queen", she needed alcohol to make her brave enough to take part in the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth was the one who came up with the plans but she urged Macbeth to do it because she could never follow it through herself. She created a tyrant in her ambitious husband, and would have done even if the witches had not been involved. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are dreadful sights near the end of the play and it seems to be shown that in a battle of good vs. evil, good always wins. The doctor said that only she could cure herself but in Act 5 scene 9 we find out that she has committed suicide. It appears the only way she could stop seeing blood on her hands was to end her life. Like good vs. evil, light and dark are symbols for life and death in ‘Macbeth" .In the sleepwalking scene Lady Macbeth cannot bear to be in the dark and constantly has a candle by her side so it is ironic that when Macbeth finds out that she is dead he says "out, out, brief candle". It seems as though Lady Macbeth was protecting herself from the Dark Spirits she once asked to help her. She wanted them to remove her feminine instincts but in the sleepwalking scene she is more vulnerable than she ever was. The image of Blood is often mentioned in ‘Macbeth' and it represents treason, murder and death. In Act 2 scene 1 Macbeth sees a floating dagger leading him to Duncan's room and sees "on the blade and dudgeon gouts of blood", which tells us that the dagger has been used to kill someone. In the sleepwalking scene there are constant references to the deeds that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have committed, therefore also being references to blood. When Lady Macbeth seems to be washing her hands she says, "Out damned spot, out I say!" This is in reference to the blood that she had to wash from her hands when she smeared it on the servants. She also refers to Duncan's murder and blood by saying, "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him". The image of sleep in ‘Macbeth' is very important. A person cannot survive without sleep and as both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth show us, their minds are never at rest and in the end they both perish. Macbeth was said to have, "murdered sleep," when he killed Duncan so neither him or his wife can sleep no more. It is because of this "murdered sleep" that Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking. While she is sleepwalking she goes through all the horrible things that have taken place, all the murders of innocent people. It is obvious to us that the relationship between Macbeth and his wife deteriorated quickly after the death of Duncan. He stopped confiding in his wife because he no longer needed her encouragement, or her. This revealed that he was perfectly capable of committing murder and turned out to be a lot stronger and more ruthless than Lady Macbeth, who couldn't cope with the guilt. At the beginning and even at the Banquet scene Lady Macbeth was in complete control and could look after her husband but that was because she was in the dark about how far his ambition had taken him. In Lady Macbeth's final speech she asks for her husband's hand, and together in their deceit with bloody hands they go to bed, but they cannot sleep again. Everything that has happened in ‘Macbeth' has effected Lady Macbeth deeply, she was not a "fiend-like Queen," as Malcolm called her, because a "fiend-like Queen" would have coped better with the lies and the guilt. Lady Macbeth was a human being just like everyone else and she said " what's done cannot be undone," showing us that although she did what she did she cannot change it even if she regrets it all. This scene brought together the central themes of the play in a final revelation of character where we see what effect these themes have had on the character of Lady Macbeth. With no sleep and blood on her hands, Lady Macbeth entered the darkness of death.

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