Macbeth's Tragic Insanity Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

Insanity is defined as “[the] inability to understand the nature and consequences of one's acts or of events, matters, or proceedings in which one is involved.” In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist turned antagonist, Macbeth, was once “valour’s minion” (I.ii.16) a loyal and devoted nobleman of Scotland. However, he commits a heinous act of regicide in order to ascend the throne, only to become a tyrant who in the end was regarded as nothing but a “dead butcher” (V.ix.35). Macbeth was unarguably sane in the beginning of the play, however, at the end of the play its unclear whether or not Macbeth truly was a “deranged blood hound” (V.ii.32), or if he was still acting on his own accord. Critics may say that this “Bloody sceptered tyrant” (IV.iii.95), who murdered innocent people indiscriminately through the novel befell the holds of insanity, but in truth, Macbeth, whether for better or for worse, never was truly driven insane.
An attribute of insanity was previously defined as the inability to understand the consequences of one’s acts or events around one, which furthers the argument that Macbeth was sane. When Macbeth, due to his insecurity of his position as king starts eliminating his enemies, he does display a certain degree of incomprehension towards the consequences of his actions, saying “the very firstlings of my heart shall be/The firstlings of my hand” (IV.i.157-158). However, the very fact that he says he will not take into account what he thinks (such as the consequences of his actions), shows that he indeed does still have the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, hence he is not insane. Towards the end of the book is where Macbeth’s sanity is questioned most. One such question arises upon Macbeth’s wholehearted devotedness to the witches prophecies, which some attribute to insanity. Macbeth towards the end of the book is deceived by the witches’ prophecies (about what has to happen in order for Macbeth to fall), and begins acting with supreme overconfidence therefore. Throughout the siege brought upon by Macduff and Malcolm, however, Macbeth’s confidence dwindles as each prophecy comes true, and his life unravels. The prophecy delivered by the second apparition saying “The power of man, for none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth” (IV.i.80-81), is the last prophecy to come true before the slaying of Macbeth. Macbeth, upon hearing Macduff’s proclamation of “Macduff was from his mother’s womb/Untimely ripped” (V.viii.15-16), realizes he is going to inevitably fall, and that the witches tricked him. This again shows that he can comprehend the consequences of events and proceedings around him, and hence is sane.

Albert Einstein once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. By this definition, Macbeth’s sanity is once again proven due to his ability of repentance. “My way of life/Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf,/And that which...

Find Another Essay On Macbeth's tragic insanity

Macbeth's Pain -- How does Macbeth's pain make this Shakesperean play a tragedy?

1324 words - 5 pages Macbeth's PainA play can not be tragic without pain. In Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Macbeth is constantly dealing with pain, most often as the one suffering. When the play opens, Macbeth is a celebrated war hero, however when the highest form of power being his is waved in front of him, Macbeth allows greed to take over and inevitably, pain to manifest. He will go to any length to ensure he is King, leading MacBeth to kill the present one

The Role of anger and fear in Macbeth.

857 words - 3 pages unconscious force spiraling down towards evil. He can not make sensible decisions; he is consumed by his anger. The specific root of Macbeth's ruin is his uncontrollable ambition. His desires, fears, and anger take control of his actions and this becomes his tragic flaw. It prevents him from becoming aware of when to stop; he is never fully satisfied as his desire for power grows. As his ambition grows, so does his fears of getting caught

Deception in Shakespeare's MacBeth

1158 words - 5 pages actions to gain power, does not pay off. Macbeth's learned evilness and deception also affects him negatively, and the quest to be king is tragic. Self-deception is the worst kind of deceit, as we can see that the guilt becomes overwhelming, causing insanity. Evil deception of any kind is clearly harmful and a valid moral lesson can be taken from this play.BIBLIOGRAPHYShakespeare, William. MACBETH. England: Longman Group UK Limited, 1986.

Macbeth Lady Macbeth is the controlling character in the story

803 words - 3 pages In a few cases, a successful but vengeful man or king is influenced and controlled by a power hungry and treacherous woman. This idea can be related to William Shakespeare's tragic hero, Macbeth, and his wife, Lady Macbeth. The relationship between these two can barely be called a marriage; although, it seems to be apparent that they have some sort of attraction to each other because of the scene when he returns from the first war. Never the


1943 words - 8 pages heartless tyrant that ruined the lives of many. If any of these events or changes had not taken place, the entire course of the play would have been altered. Hence there is no supreme factor to what caused the tragic ending of 'Macbeth'.Shakespeare left us with an open conclusion of what really did cause Macbeth's catastrophic downfall. It can be clearly seen that there is no dominant factor which lead to this outcome, it was instead, a series of

Macbeth Tragic flaw repor.

589 words - 2 pages Curtis BrownNo one on earth is perfect, even the most beautiful gem has a flaw. Humans are the same but they are gems of flesh and marrow. Their flaws have the potential to become tragic. One such man was driven into a blind insanity where he slew all those that were important in his life and their families; that man was Macbeth. Macbeth's tragic flaw ambition, an ambition spawned by him and his wife's lust for power. This flaw ultimately led to


1289 words - 5 pages “Macbeth”- Dark. Evil. Tragic. A revered play written in the 16th century by the famous playwright: William Shakespeare. The theme of “Macbeth” is centred on how power and the thirst for it can corrupt a person and lead to their insanity. Power-hungry and manipulating Lady Macbeth, with the help of the prophecies of the three malevolent witches, persuades the eponymous Macbeth to kill his king, so that she can be the queen. But unfortunately

The Downfall of Man in Macbeth and Moby Dick

2544 words - 10 pages Banquo. Macbeth's ambition has driven him to insanity, and he becomes obsessed with the weird sisters' prophecies, just as Ahab is driven to madness by the whale and becomes infatuated over seeking his revenge. When he confronts the sisters, they show him three apparitions; the first tells him to beware of Macduff; the second that no man born of woman can harm him; and the third that he shall not be defeated until Birnam

Lady Macbeth's Influence Upon Her Husband in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1796 words - 7 pages would be reminiscent of if her and her husband secured control of Scotland. From the inception of receiving her husbands letter, enlightening her that three anonymous witches had given him 'metaphysical aid' Lady Macbeth's mind starts to work in ways which were not deemed fit for a person in that era, and an aggressive and inhuman nature is uncovered which develops throughout the play into a kind of insanity which as a

The Downfall Of 'The Tragic Hero'

1180 words - 5 pages bloody ghost. This is too much for the guilt-ridden Macbeth to handle. Macbeth becomes very nervous and Lady Macbeth attempts to calm him down. Lady Macbeth tries to convince the banquet guest that everything is all right, and that her husband is often like this. Macbeth sinks further into insanity, Macbeth¡¦s hallucinations really contribute the decline of the tragic hero.Macbeth becomes suspicious of Macduff because he didn&iexcl

Macbeth Commentary

551 words - 2 pages discovered. In the mean time he is in a sense of fear of discovery and confusion towards the future. This passage in short sums up the story of the play. Throughout the passage death is emphasized. This death is of Macbeth's family and close ones, and himself through insanity. The repetition of spells and charms are used to symbolize the importance of the witches ceremonies. Fate verse free will can be considered into the importance of this

Similar Essays

Shakespeare's Macbeth Lady Macbeth And The Tragic Flaw Are To Blame

840 words - 3 pages Lady Macbeth and the Tragic Flaw Are to Blame       "...Go pronounce his present death,/ And with his former title greet Macbeth."  (Act 1, Scene 2, 64-65)     Though the word "death" in this sentence refers to the former thane of Cawdor's demise, Shakespeare uses the clever trick of foreshadowing Macbeth's downfall by coupling the word "death" with the word "Macbeth" so early in the tragedy.  The quote has another importance  it

"Tragedy Of Macbeth" By William Shakespeare

515 words - 2 pages In William Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Macbeth" the tragic hero Macbeth sets himself up for his own demise. There is only one main cause of the downfall of Macbeth, which was him listening to the witches prophecies and letting them influence him. This is what leads Macbeth on the path to his sadistic down fall.The outside influence in Macbeth's life was too great for Macbeth to over come. During the time the witches first met Macbeth they said in

The Downfall Of Lady Macbeth In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1791 words - 7 pages The Downfall of Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Macbeth William Shakespeare's Macbeth has been a theatrical favorite since Elizabethan times. Its timeless themes of ambition, fate, violence, and insanity collaborate to produce a captivating plot. The audience traces the disintegration of a tragic hero and his willful wife. Lady Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most forcefully drawn female characters, plays an important role in the play

Macbeth As A Tragic Hero In William Shakespeare's Play

2107 words - 8 pages Macbeth as a Tragic Hero in William Shakespeare's Play Macbeth is a Shakespearian play involving an ambitious brave warrior, (Macbeth) who is cousin to the King of Scotland. The play focuses on Macbeths ambitions. Macbeth meets three weird sisters, who predict that one day he would be king. But Macbeth's ambition over took his life as he ended up doing anything to become king, even kill the ones closest to him. There