Macbeth Does Murder Sleep English Literature Essay

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I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when Im awake, you know. This eminent quote by Ernest Hemingway portrays sleep as a way of escaping reality. We escape our lives and hide away in comfortable beds, procrastinating getting back to reality. This is a luxury not everyone has. Walking the streets, all of us have walked past a homeless person sleeping on the ground, literally "looking down" on them. Sleep also means something drastically different to specific age groups. It is a great hassle for parents to get their eight-year-old child to bed. The world is exciting for children, their vivid imagination allows them to enjoy life the way adults only can in their dreams. Once puberty hits, teenagers will seldom leave their bed when they do not need to. So what changes adults' view on sleep? It is the change from an innocent human being to a person with responsibilities. Sleep is often a portrayal of success. Businessmen and women complain about their lack of sleep, being too busy at work, .

Section 2

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"Sleep shall neither night nor day / Hang upon his penthouse lid" (I, Sc. 3, l. 18-19)

"When Duncan is asleep, / Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey" (I, Sc. 7, l. 61-62)

"When in swinish sleep / Their drenched natures lies as in a death" (I, Sc. 7, l. 67-68)

"Will it not be receiv'd / When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two / Of his own chamber, and us'd their very daggers, / That they have done't?" (I, Sc. 7, l. 74-77)

"A heavy summon 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." (II, Sc. 1, l. 7-9)

"What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's abed." (II, Sc. 1, l. 12)

"By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up / In measureless content. (II, Sc. 1, l. 17-17)

"Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse / The curtain'd sleep." (II, Sc. 1, l. 50-51)

"Alack, I am afraid they have awak'd" (II, Sc. 2, l. 9)

"Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done't. (II, Sc. 2, l. 12-13)

"There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried / 'Murder!', / That they did wake each other; I stood, and heard / them, / But they did say their prayers and address'd them / Again to sleep." (II, Sc. 2, l. 25-27)

"Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more: / Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep, / Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, / The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, / Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast." (II, Sc. 2, l. 38-43)

"Still it cried, 'Sleep no more' to all the house; / 'Glamis hath murder'd sleep', and therefore Cawdor / Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more." (II, Sc. 2, l. 44-46)

"Go carry them and smear / The sleepy grooms with blood." (II, Sc. 2, l. 52-53)

"The sleeping and the dead / Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood / That fears a painted devil." (II, Sc. 2, l. 56-58)

"Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou / couldst." (II, Sc. 2, l. 77-78)

"Awake, awake! / Ring the alarum bell! Murder and treason! / Banquo and Donaldbain! Malcolm, awake, / Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, / And look on death itself." (II, Sc. 3, l. 70-74)

"What's the business / That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley / The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak." (II, Sc. 3, l. 77-79)

"Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep / In the affliction of these terrible dreams / That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead / Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, / Than on the torture of the mind to lie / in restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave. /After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well." (III, Sc. 2, l. 17-23)

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"You lack the season of all natures, sleep." (III, Sc. 5, l. 141)

"Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse / is the initiate fear that wants hard use; /

We are but young in deed." (III, Sc. 5, l. 142-144)

"Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights, / Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives, / Do faithful homage and receive free honours, / All which we pine for now. (III, Sc. 6, l. 34-37)

"A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the / benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching. In this / slumber agitation, besides her walking and other / actual performances, what at any time have you heard / her say?" (V, Sc. 1, l. 8-12)

"This disease is beyond my practice; yet I have known / those which have walked in their sleep who have died / holily in their beds." (V, Sc. 1, l. 51-53)

Closely related to sleep:

"This night's great business into my dispatch, / Which shall to all our nights and days to come / Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom." (I, Sc. 5, l. 67-69)

"This bird / Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle; / Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ'd / The air is delicate." (I, Sc. 6, l. 7-10)

"Was the hope drunk / Wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since? / And wakes it now to look so green and pale / At what it did so freely?" (I, Sc. 7, l. 36-38)

"I dream'd last night of the three weird sisters; / To you they have show'd some truth." (II, Sc. 1, l. 20-21)

"It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman / Which gives the stern'st good-night." (II, Sc. 2, l. 3-4)

"In conclusion, equivocates / him in a sleep, and giving him the lie, leaves him." (II, Sc. 3, l. 31-32)

"The night has been unruly: where we lay, / Our chimneys were blown down, and, as they say, / Lamentings heard i'th'air, strange screams of death / And phrophesying with accent terrible / Of dire combustion and confus'd events, / New hatch'd to th'woeful time." ( II, Sc. 3, l. 49-54)

"Come, seeling night, / Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day / And with thy bloody and invisible hand / Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond / Which keeps me pale." (III, Sc. 3, l. 46-50)

"Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, / Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse." (III, Sc. 3, l. 52-53)

"Foul whisp'rings are abroad; unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds / To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets." (V, Sc. 1, l. 53-65)

(b)

1. Deprivation of sleep as punishment

"Sleep shall neither night nor day / Hang upon his penthouse lid" (I, Sc. 3, l. 18-19)

"A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the / benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching. In this / slumber agitation, besides her walking and other / actual performances, what at any time have you heard / her say?" (V, Sc. 1, l. 8-12)

2. Sleep compared to death

"When in swinish sleep / Their drenched natures lies as in a death" (I, Sc. 7, l. 67-68)

"Will it not be receiv'd / When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two / Of his own chamber, and us'd their very daggers, / That they have done't?" (I, Sc. 7, l. 74-77)

"Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, / And look on death itself." (II, Sc. 3, l. 70-74)

"This disease is beyond my practice; yet I have known / those which have walked in their sleep who have died / holily in their beds." (V, Sc. 1, l. 51-53)

3. Deprivation of sleep because of guilt

"A heavy summon 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." (II, Sc. 1, l. 7-9)

"Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more: / Macbeth does murder sleep" (II, Sc. 2, l. 40-43)

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"Still it cried, 'Sleep no more' to all the house; / 'Glamis hath murder'd sleep', and therefore Cawdor / Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more." (II, Sc. 2, l. 44-46)

4. Sleep as a description of plot

"When Duncan is asleep, / Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey" (I, Sc. 7, l. 61-62)

"What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's abed." (II, Sc. 1, l. 12)

"By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up / In measureless content. (II, Sc. 1, l. 17-17)

"Alack, I am afraid they have awak'd" (II, Sc. 2, l. 9)

"Go carry them and smear / The sleepy grooms with blood." (II, Sc. 2, l. 52-53)

"Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou / couldst." (II, Sc. 2, l. 77-78)

"What's the business / That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley / The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak." (II, Sc. 3, l. 77-79)

"The night has been unruly: where we lay, / Our chimneys were blown down, and, as they say, / Lamentings heard i'th'air, strange screams of death / And phrophesying with accent terrible / Of dire combustion and confus'd events, / New hatch'd to th'woeful time." ( II, Sc. 3, l. 49-54)

"This bird / Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle; / Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ'd / The air is delicate." (I, Sc. 6, l. 7-10)

5. Description of sleep

"The innocent sleep, / Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, / The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, / Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast." (II, Sc. 2, l. 38-40)

"The sleeping and the dead / Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood / That fears a painted devil." (II, Sc. 2, l. 56-58)

"You lack the season of all natures, sleep." (III, Sc. 5, l. 141)

"Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, / Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse." (III, Sc. 3, l. 52-53)

"Come, seeling night, / Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day / And with thy bloody and invisible hand / Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond / Which keeps me pale." (III, Sc. 3, l. 46-50)

"In conclusion, equivocates / him in a sleep, and giving him the lie, leaves him." (II, Sc. 3, l. 31-32)

6. Dreams

"Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse / The curtain'd sleep." (II, Sc. 1, l. 50-51)

"Foul whisp'rings are abroad; unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds / To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets." (V, Sc. 1, l. 53-65)

"I dream'd last night of the three weird sisters; / To you they have show'd some truth." (II, Sc. 1, l. 20-21)

7. Other

"Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done't. (II, Sc. 2, l. 12-13)

"There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried / 'Murder!', / That they did wake each other; I stood, and heard / them, / But they did say their prayers and address'd them / Again to sleep." (II, Sc. 2, l. 25-27)

"Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep / In the affliction of these terrible dreams / That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead / Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, / Than on the torture of the mind to lie / in restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave. /After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well." (III, Sc. 2, l. 17-23)

"Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights, / Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives, / Do faithful homage and receive free honours, / All which we pine for now. (III, Sc. 6, l. 34-37)

"It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman / Which gives the stern'st good-night." (II, Sc. 2, l. 3-4)

"Was the hope drunk / Wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since? / And wakes it now to look so green and pale / At what it did so freely?" (I, Sc. 7, l. 36-38)

"This night's great business into my dispatch, / Which shall to all our nights and days to come / Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom." (I, Sc. 5, l. 67-69)

(c)

"A heavy summon 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." (II, Sc. 1, l. 7-9)

Shakespeare demonstrates that Banquo cannot sleep, most likely due to the witches' prophecies. The usage of verse allows the passage to sound poetic. This poetry is further emphasized by the alliteration of "lies like lead". The simile allows the audience to picture the situation. The usage of "repose" instead of sleep differentiates Banquo from Macbeth, who prefers using the word "sleep".

"Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse / The curtain'd sleep." (II, Sc. 1, l. 50-51)

Once more Shakespeare personifies sleep. Sleep is able to be abused. This use of the verb shocks the audience, as sleep is portrayed in such an innocent way throughout the play, now being abused by "wicked dreams". The use of the adjective "curtain'd" has changed in meaning. In the time the play is set, Macbeth would have slept behind closed-up curtains of his bed. Nowadays the adjective can be interpreted as a metaphor.

"The sleeping and the dead / Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood / That fears a painted devil." (II, Sc. 2, l. 56-58)

This conceit is one of Shakespeare's great metaphors. It reveals Lady Macbeth's view of her husband. She does not differentiate "the sleeping and the dead". The carefully worded chastisement of Macbeth suggests that he is a child at heart, or at least behaves like one. This is not the first time Lady Macbeth uses language like this to speak down to her husband, establishing authority over him. As all great metaphors in Shakespeare's play, this part is written in verse.

"Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more: / Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep, / Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, / The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, / Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast." (II, Sc. 2, l. 38-43)

This famous description of sleep by Shakespeare is beautifully phrased. In five lines Shakespeare manages to describe all aspects of sleep. The personification of sleep and it being able to be murdered sheds a different light on the issue. The use of the metaphor of tangled thread or yarn is beautifully written. The "ravell'd" suggests confused thoughts, which can be cleared up and secured by sleeping. Ravel was also "a kind of medieval bread ("ravel bread"), […] which may connect the "ravell'd" sleeve of care with the "nourisher" in the last line." [1] Additionally, the whole paragraph is made up of great contrast. The murder of sleep is followed by the word "innocent". The "sleeve of care" is immediately contrasted with "the death of each day's life". The similar sound of "bath" and "balm" lets the audience literally "bathe" in the words.

Section 3

(a)

The image of sleep in "Macbeth" is used by Shakespeare to highlight one of the play's major themes: human conscience. The focus on paranoia and resulting insomnia can be found throughout the course of the play. "Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth himself experience unfruitful nights of nightmares and sleepwalking because of their deep rooted guilt". [2] Sleep deprivation is therefore used in the play as a sign for a guilty conscience. Lady Macbeth speaks the truth only when she is sleepwalking. This portrays the innocent state one is in when asleep. "As the play progresses, the word "sleep" is used with multiple connotations to fit the arising scenarios. These connotations are: a state of peaceful rest, vulnerability, and a supernatural state of existence." [3] These associations are all very much interconnected. As the play develops, Macbeth becomes increasingly paranoid. This does not allow him to rest in peace, making him vulnerable to his own thoughts, which haunt him after killing King Duncan. The ghost of Banquo, who he has ordered to be killed, returns to haunt him, symbolising his guilty conscience yet again - this time in a supernatural way.

"Though Shakespeare could not apply a psychology that was not in existence, he did accurately mirror human nature and utilize what was known on the subject as well as his own observations. Though it may seem ridiculous that Macbeth could have had a case of battle fatigue, yet battle fatigue, as its name implies, is simply the reaction to an overdose of combat. The only thing new about it is its name. Human nature remains the same. A surprising amount of evidence can be found to show that Macbeth indeed suffered from what can easily be classified as battle fatigue." [4] 

This source differs from the rest, as it advocates that Macbeth suffers from battle fatigue after the battle before the play starts. It allows the audience a completely new viewpoint, namely that Macbeth cannot sleep because of the war he has fought in, and not because his bad conscience is bothering him. This perspective would result in a very different reading of the play; the inability to sleep signifying ones loss of innocence would lose its weight.

"If sleep can be murdered, then the play suggests it has, or better yet is, a body with a strange life of its own, which carries a holy valence in the case of sovereign sleep. Macbeth's aggression against that body results in a punishing state of insomnia, which tyrannizes Macbeth's supposedly sovereign body, and corresponds directly to the loss of political authority that culminates in his death." [5] 

Sleep is personified, through Shakespeare's language it has become "a body with a strange life of its own". Macbeth, then, is fighting against an actual body, not just an abstract thing in his life. It would be interesting to see this acted out on stage by having an actual actor play the role of "sleep", using the gods Hypnos or Somnus, from Greek and Roman mythology, to fight Macbeth.

"Those you have been interested in the sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth, and its underlying mental activity, have always focused on the hand-wringing automatism. Freud had difficulty in classifying this behaviour, stating […] "The case of Lady Macbeth is not one of ordinary somnolence, but something more like a nocturnal delirium", elsewhere classing Lady Macbeth's behaviour as mysophobia." [6] 

This source evidently stands out, as it is not a literary review of the play, but a medical one. Nevertheless, it is interesting, as it allows us to look at the play in a completely different light. Shakespeare understandably did not know as much about medicine, and used Lady Macbeth's washing of the hands as a literary device, an image, to portray her guilt. By classifying Lady Macbeth's behaviour as germaphobic, the scene loses its imagery and with that its portrayal of guilt.

In his play Macbeth, William Shakespeare stresses the importance of sleep by using sleep deprivation as sign of a guilty conscience, chastisement or even death. This last image is used by Shakespeare in numerous of his plays. "Macduff, for example, tells Malcolm to "Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, / And look on death itself". Oberon, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, speaks of "death counterfeiting sleep'', while Iachimo, in Cymbeline, calls sleep the "ape of death."" [7] Lady Macbeth similarly compares the "sleeping and the dead" to pictures, categorizing the two of them together. Shakespeare uses the healing nature of sleep and its effect on people throughout Macbeth. Macbeth's insomnia is the consequences of his assault on the sleeping Duncan.

A side of sleep, which is not mentioned in Macbeth, but in other Shakespearean plays, is the interference of sleep out of love for someone. "Valentine, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona says, "Love hath chas'd sleep from my enthralled eyes."" [8] Losing sleep over happy or unhappy love is very common.

While in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is troubled by sleepwalking, King Lear is having nightmares, which disturb his rest. Both seem to be haunted by evil spirits.

Section 4

An issue closely related to sleep is sex. It is often mentioned by the witches, who use it as evil against human beings, draining them "dry as hell" (I, Sc. 3, l.17). The theme of sex between the Macbeths is, at first look, almost absent in the play. They do not have any descendants. In the patriarchal society the Macbeths were living in, it would have been of great importance for Macbeth's wife to bear him a child. As we know, Lady Macbeth has given birth to a child in her first marriage ("I have given suck and know / How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me" (I, Sc. 7, l. 54-55)). By insulting her husband of not being a man, she hits a critical point for him. It is possible that he was impotent, making him feel like less of a man, and was trying to forget. Therefore, a way of seeing Macbeth's plan to murder Duncan, and the great importance to him of becoming king, is him needing to prove of his manliness. By fighting in battle, he was able to forget about his lack of ability. Now, he aims to become "father" of, not children, but his country, Scotland. Constantly throughout the play, he is reminded of his impotence. The witches, all-knowing, prophesy Banquo's descendants becoming king. On top of that, they haunt him by using the image of children as their apparitions. In his monologue about old age (V, Sc. 3, l. 20-28), Macbeth does not mention either children or grandchildren. It is possible that all this trouble does not allow Macbeth to get any rest. He is trying hard to make Lady Macbeth believe in his manliness again by becoming king, but is constantly haunted by his sexual frustration.