How Does Shakespeare Present the Psychological Deterioration of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?
How does Shakespeare present the psychological deterioration of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? When considering the idea of disturbed minds we are quickly drawn to an image of mental illness, brutality or social disorder but this is not always the case. There are many reasons as to why an individual might have a disturbed mind: stress, traumatic experiences, childhood problems or illness. Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” is about a loyal warrior a “lion” and his wife being destroyed by their minds, which cannot lay at rest after killing the king, which in 1603 would be a crime against mankind, nature and God.
This is because in 1603 there was a distinct hierarchy of power which was as follows. King, Man, Woman and then beast. By killing the king the murder would have gone against God since the king was his representative, against nature as it would seem that man or woman would be above the king depending on the gender of the murderer and against mankind as it would unrightfully take away a life. The play would have been extremely disturbing to the audience during those times because of the reasons listed above as well as involving witches which were considered real.
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Through this play Shakespeare suggests that killing the king would bring down God’s wrath on the murderer and conspirators behind the crime. As well as forcing nature to act independently to punish the criminals as well. Not only did Shakespeare write this out of belief but also because amongst the audience would be King James the first who was facing massive struggles because he was a Scottish king that the English did not like him.
One thing that Shakespeare does to create a sense of deterioration in Macbeth is his fall from grace and perfection, which is using Aristotle’s idea of a tragic hero that he/she, will fall from a great height because of their one fatal flaw either making the audience feel sympathetic of scared depending on the character. “a sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion” Act 1 scene 2 line 35. Shows us the majestic Macbeth the powerful predator and “still I 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. ” Act 2, scene 2 line 41-43. Shows the disturbed Macbeth ruined by his insomnia and intense paranoia. This clearly shows the audience that Macbeth is being punished by God and nature for what he did to the king and natural hierarchy which could either scare them because this shows the power of God or make them feel sympathetic towards Macbeth because they may think that it was too harsh on him.
Shakespeare’s characters are predisposed to problems within such as “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” Act 1, scene 3 line 38 this is showing the influence on Macbeth the witches make even before they meet him. “A sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion” this tells us that Macbeth is born to rule to be at the top of the hierarchy and that he won’t let anything stop him making the audience wonder if he would commit crimes to get what he feels is rightfully his. Act 2, scene 2, line 35-36 “Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep” is showing the lack of inner peace in Macbeth as only the “innocent” can sleep as it is nature giving you and your mind time to rest and recuperate from any stress or other damaging thoughts or actions. This is nature punishing Macbeth for disturbing its order. “A dagger of the mind, a false creation /proceeding from the heat oppressed brain? ” Act 2, scene 1, line 38-39 shows Macbeth not being able to control what he is thinking about making his character feel weak and powerless compared to the “eagle” and “lion” he previously was.
Act 2, scene 2, lines 17-18 “Did not you speak? /When? /Now/ As I descended” create a sense of inner panic because they are talking fast and feel comfortable with their position even in their own house and would like to get as far away from this situation as possible. “If we should fail-/ we fail? ” act 1, scene 7 line 59 shows us that Macbeth no longer feels a man since he has to be reassured by Lady Macbeth who at this point is the stronger character suggesting that she is the man of the house not Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth starts of as a strong controlling woman that will do anything to make herself and her husband powerful. “Give me the daggers, the sleeping and the dead /are but pictures” this suggest that lady Macbeth has a great control over Macbeth and that she is more of a man because she has to finish framing the guards for committing the murder. She then turns to a suicidal wreck by the end taking her life. Lady Macbeth is predisposed to her future fall by saying things such as “Had he not resembled /My father as he slept, I had done’t. Act 2, scene 2 line 13-14 and “I have given suck, and know /How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: /I would, while it was smiling in my face, /Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, /And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you /Have done to this. ” Act 1, scene 7 line 54-59 this shows that she would do anything to gain what she wanted except for hurting her family which she may have lost this is shown because she cannot make herself kill the king when he is asleep as he resembled her father who she loved.