Macbeth’s Descent Into Madness
In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the character Macbeth descends into madness. Macbeth’s descent into madness first started with the witch’s prediction. If he had never met the witches none of this trouble would have occurred.
Macbeth is seen as a “valiant cousin, worthy gentleman” (I, ii, 24). He is a brave warrior who is well respected in his community, until the witches prophesied to him that he would one day be king (I, iii, 50). Macbeth interprets that he must act to fulfill the prophecy. He sends a letter to lady Macbeth asking what to do. She suggests that he should kill Duncan. Macbeth follows the plan and kills Duncan (II, ii, 15). Directly following the murder Macbeth can no longer say amen (II, iii, 31-33). Macbeth also hears a voice in his head say, “sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”(II, ii, 35, 36). For the rest of the play Macbeth suffers from insomnia. When Macbeth pretends to be surprised by Duncan’s death he says, “ Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time, for, from this instant, there’s nothing serious in mortality. (II, iii, 92-95) he is saying that if he had died before he murdered Duncan he would have lived a great life, but now that he’s committed murder, life is just a game and nothing is important anymore. These are suicidal thoughts and show how his grip on reality has greatly slipped.
Macbeth shows signs of serious mental deterioration when he sees a dagger appear before him, but doesn’t understand if it’s real or not (II, i, 35-40), later on in his speech he says his other senses made his eyes look foolish or they are the only trustworthy senses (II, I, 44-46)
Macbeth shows more signs of descent when he says Duncan is lucky to be dead, he doesn’t have to face the torture of the mind. He also describes life as a fitful fever and that he suffers from terrible dreams (III, ii, 18-23). Saying death is better than life reinforces his suicidal thoughts and shows how he is descending into madness.
Macbeth makes an argument that nature doesn’t have an eternal copyright on Banquo and Fleance’s souls, and if they are going to die eventually they should die now (III, ii, 38). But in contrast he is saying that nature doesn’t have a copyright on his soul either and he will eventually die, why not now?