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Mental Deterioration As A Motif in Macbeth

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Jayanthi 1!
Sishir Jayanthi
Mrs. Eve Itaya
H. English 10 P.2
14 February 2015
Mental Deterioration
Shakespeare uses the motif of mental deterioration to convey the point that achieving one’s ambitions through malicious deeds can cause psychological collapse. Psychological deterioration through wrong doings is first evident before Macbeth murders Duncan. “Is this a dagger I see before me” (cite). Macbeth questions himself, before he is about to kill Duncan; it could be interpreted that whilst the dagger signifies the immoral act of murdering a king,
Macbeth is struggling with the internal violence of mental trauma. Shakespeare puts Macbeth into this position to show how killing an innocent man to achieve a desired goal can come plague him thus resulting in mental deterioration. Even if Macbeth didn't kill Duncan yet, the idea of taking ones soul already haunts him giving the idea that he is already facing mental trauma.
Psychological deterioration is also evident after the murder of Banquo. “The time has been /
That, when the brains were out, the man would die, / And there an end. But now they rise again /
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns / And push us from our stools. This is more strange / Than such a murder is” (cite act 3 scene 4). This violent act to achieve his desired goals begins to seriously hurt him psychologically as he begins to hallucinate. These constant worries show Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s mental deterioration as they cannot cope with the constant fear that someone may find out they killed Duncan and Banquo to reach their desired positions in society. Shakespeare includes these sudden hallucinations to show Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s

Jayanthi 2! psychological state becoming worse. This fear strictly shows the behavior one can experience when he or she does violent deeds to achieve a goal. Structurally, the violence and show of bravery in the first part of the play illustrates Macbeth’s heroism; however, as the play progresses, Macbeth’s attempts at violence not only become excessive, but less striking in nature to reflect his downfall as a tragic hero. This evolution contributes to the constant change in sanity for Macbeth. Finally, another instance of mental collapse is shown when Lady Macbeth says,
“out damned spot” (V.i.25). In addition to a mark of violence not easily being washed from
Duncan’s murder, the Gothic element of the supernatural decreases the effect of physical violence, and instead emphasizes the mental violence inflicted on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s soul. Lady Macbeth was allegedly said to have committed suicide. Shakespeare utilizes this in his text to further prove the point that pursuing an ambition through malicious ways can cause mental collapse. Lady Macbeth was so mind wrecked on the multiple murders that she couldn't bare staying alive thus, allegedly, killing herself. Therefore, the reoccurring theme of mental deterioration is incorporated into Macbeth to make the point that achieving ambition through malicious deeds can cause serious mental deterioration.

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