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Discomfort As A Symbol In Shakespeare's "Macbeth"

740 words - 3 pages

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth tells a story of corruption, greed, and cruelty: all results of supernatural intervention. These elements take their toll on Macbeth and others close to him when at heart they just want to be at peace. Shakespeare made his characters mentally troubled by strange occurrences or personal problems like envy. By combining the problems with a symbol, he makes the reader realize what these characters lack. By examining sleep imagery in Macbeth, one can determine that it represents something comforting which many characters desire. This in turn helps the reader realize the characters’ feelings and how they differ from each other.
The first obvious sign that sleep imagery is a representation of comfort in seen in Scene 1 of Act 2. Shortly after Macbeth and Banquo are visited by the three sisters, Banquo is troubled by their prophecy and overall weirdness. He says, “A heavy summons lies like lead upon me, and yet I would not sleep, merciful powers, restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature gives way to in repose.” (39) The second part of this sentence shows that he is concerned about the witches, while the first part shows just how tired he is. He is so tired that he can feel a weight coming down on him, yet his vision of the witches is so alarming that he cannot fall asleep. Certainly, sleep would be very comforting to Banquo in this scene. This gives readers a way to compare the character to Macbeth. At this point in the play, Macbeth is practically unfazed by the weird sisters. His only concern is that they left before he could question them further. This shows how ruthless and unfeeling he is, especially compared to fellow soldiers like Banquo.
A second instance where sleep is a symbol for comfort shows a different side of Macbeth, after he has murdered Duncan. He regrets his actions and is troubled by the hallucinations he has had. Sleep is without a doubt very important to Macbeth, and to have “murdered” it troubles him very much. He says, “Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more: Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent...

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