The Importance of Night in "Macbeth"

Topics: Macbeth, Duncan I of Scotland, Evil Pages: 2 (780 words) Published: October 8, 1999
When I thought about the role that the word "night" would play in the tragic play "Macbeth," I found that there were a variety of possibilities. Immediately, I thought of the nighttime as a period of rest and revitalization. I expected that this would allow characters to recover from the day's many demands. Secondly, I connected the night to the unknown. In the night's cloak of darkness, many more things could go undiscovered than in the revealing light of day. Next, I thought that the night would mean vulnerability. As the evening closes in, everyone begins to wind down, not expecting any real action until the breaking of the dawn. In addition, while one is sleeping, they are susceptible to almost anything. The most logical time to make an attack would definitely be after nightfall. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, is night's correlation with evilness. As children, we were all afraid of nasty monsters that lurked in the darkness of night. The night has long been believed to host supernatural beings and occurrences. As I read the play and came upon the word "night," I was surprised to discover that all four aspects of my hypothesis were correct. First, in act I, we see the first usage, night as a period for rest and revitalization. In scene iii, lines 19-23, the First Witch says,

Sleep shall neither night nor day / Hang upon his penthouse lid; / He shall live a man forbid: / Weary sev'nights nine times nine / Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine: / Though his bark cannot be lost, / Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.

Here, she is punishing the sailor by depriving him of his sleep, which she realizes is important for anyone to function normally. Without the ability to recuperate after each hard day's work, one would grow very weak and eventually start to lose one's mind. Next, we can observe night's connection to the unknown. As seen in my word journal, Lady Macbeth beckons, Come, thick night, / And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of...
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