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Relating Death To Sleep Essay

792 words - 4 pages

What comes to mind when one says the word sleep? Probably peace and recovery. The place you go to be sheltered from life’s battering ram. The thing you do to escape the wearisomeness of this life. Shakespeare turns this idea we have of sleep on its head. He uses lots of sleep imagery throughout Macbeth. Shakespeare uses it with Duncan’s death, he also compares beds to graves and all throughout the play Shakespeare finds and highlights commonalities between sleep and death. By putting all of these thing together and examining Shakespeare’s use of imagery one can determine that Shakespeare associates death with sleep in order to reinforce the not everything is what it seems theme.
Duncan’s death, which is one of the main events of the entire play and drives the plot for much of the story, is heavily associated with sleep. To top that, he is murdered in his sleep. Two quotes in particular exemplify this idea. The first is spoken by Macbeth right after he kills Duncan. “Sleep no more. Macbeth does murder sleep.” (45). this line does not mean that Macbeth literally murdered sleep. He killed Duncan who not only represents sleep but Duncan was also sleeping at the time of the murder. This reinforces the not everything is what it seems theme. The other quote that relates Duncan’s death to sleep is in Act III spoken with an envious tone by Macbeth yet again. He says, “In restless ecstasy Duncan is in his grave” (75). At first blush this quote is so confusing, what is restless ecstasy? In this quote Duncan is “sleeping” in his grave. But more importantly we see sleep and Duncan in a more positive light. Shakespeare is again reinforcing his not everything is what it seems theme because at first glance death may seem bad but it is just life’s ultimate form of sleep. It’s shielding Duncan from the problems of the living.
Another way Shakespeare associates death with sleep is by using similes and metaphors. A prime example of this takes place on page 53 and is spoken by Macduff. He says, “As from your graves rise up.” This line is comparing beds to graves. First of all this fits because during the night Duncan is murdered in his bed which then he is sent to his “grave”. So...

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