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Sleeping The Vulnerability Away Essay

682 words - 3 pages

A lot of people usually get tired of hearing about Shakespeare and “blank verse” this, or “literary genius” that, but when one stops to actually evaluate it, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is more than just a tale about a power-hungry thane that kills to take the throne. As Shakespeare uses sleep imagery, characters who gain power become more and more vulnerable. When these characters fight for power, they become too vulnerable, and usually end up dying. Finally, as the characters struggle to remain strong throughout the play, sleep imagery begins to show the weaknesses the characters didn’t show otherwise. By examining Shakespeare’s use of sleep imagery, one can determine that all characters are vulnerable, even those who are most powerful.
As characters become more powerful throughout the play, they begin to become more vulnerable as well. This is shown through Lady Macbeth when she kills to become queen, and her ruthless acts come back to haunt her as she begins to sleepwalk and talk about her terrible deeds in her sleep: “Will these hands ne’er be clean?/ No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that./ You mar all with this startling.” (Shakespeare 135). This quote is significant because Lady Macbeth began as a thane’s wife, but with no remorse, became a queen. Now haunted by her evil deeds, however, her subconscious reveals that she was marked with sins forever. Her husband, Macbeth, also explains to the audience that he experiences vulnerability in his sleep: “Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep/ In the affliction of the terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly.” (Shakespeare 75). He, like his wife, is becoming more powerful and gaining the throne’s power, but is finding that vulnerability is coming as a toll.
As the play continues to progress, and characters grow in their power, they usually end up dying after reaching a peak of vulnerability. When Duncan was at the top of his power ladder (king) he was killed by another for that same power. He was asleep, a...

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