Just Sleep On It Essay, Research Paper
Just Sleep On It
Every human being experiences rough times at one point or another. Whether it is minor or major, it s how an individual deals with the problem that makes him or her a stronger person. Traditionally when faced with a dilemma, people often want to sleep on it in order to get everything straight. Sleep generally is thought of as a peaceful time of rejuvenation and bodily repair. In the tragedy Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Macbeth s aspirations to become King contradict the established method, and turns sleep into something that is feared. The motif of sleep depicts the actions of Macbeth and how they distort the peaceful aspect of sleep.
On the night that Macbeth murders King Duncan, while he was sleeping, Banquo says to his son, A Heavy summons lies like lead upon me, / And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers, / Restrain me in the cursed thoughts (2.1.8-10). Banquo doesn’t say just what thoughts are disturbing his sleep, but one can infer that they have to do with the witches prophecy, which is, once Macbeth is crowned Thane of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland; Banquo will produce a line of Scottish kings. A little later in the scene, Macbeth seems to suggest that he could reward Banquo if Banquo would somehow support him in something having to do with the witches prophecies. Banquo shows that he is suspicious of Macbeth’s motives, and Macbeth ends the conversation by wishing Banquo Good repose (2.1.40), or a good night s sleep. After Banquo has gone to bed, Macbeth hallucinates, seeing a bloody dagger in the air, and then he tells himself that it is the time of night for such a hallucination by saying, Now o er the one-half world / Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse / The curtained sleep (2.1.61-62). Sleep is curtained because at night wicked dreams can penetrate the curtains and sleep itself.
After Macbeth murders King Duncan, he s so unnerved that he can’t move. Staring at his bloody hands, he tells his wife that as he left the King’s chamber, he heard two men in another room: There s one did laugh in s sleep, and one cried / Murder! (2.2.30-31). To him, it s as though those men, even in their sleep, could see his bloody hands. Moments later, still talking about the frightening things that happened to him, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth, Methought I heard a voice cry Sleep mo more! / Macbeth does murder sleep (2.2.47-48). The voices Macbeth hears worry him. Rest can no longer come easy to Macbeth, because he is forever anxious at what lurks behind him. When Macbeth mentions a ravell d sleave (2.2.34), a tangled piece of thread or yarn, it can be linked to the kind of frustration one experiences when he or she has so many problems that the person can t see the end to any of them. Macbeth compares sleep to a soothing bath after a day of hard work, and to the main course of a feast. To Macbeth, sleep is not only a necessity of life, but something that makes life worth living, and he feels that when he murdered his King in his sleep, he murdered sleep itself.
According to Macbeth s Porter, who is still drunk from a night of partying, sleep is one of the side effects of drinking, which causes nose-painting, sleep, and urine (2.3.29). The Porter also relates sleep with impossible dreams. He says that alcohol makes a man horny but unable to do anything about it, so that he can only dream of having sex: Drink equivocates / him in a sleep and, giving him the lie, leaves him. (2.3.35-36). Not only does sleep produce fear in Macbeth, but other influences such as alcohol affect how people sleep and the side effects of a bad nights sleep. Later in the same scene, after Macduff has discovered the bloody body of King Duncan, he calls upon Banquo and the King s sons to awake, to Shake off this downy sleep, death s counterfeit, / And look on death itself. (2.3.88-89). Macduff means that although sleep and death may look similar, real sleep is downy and comforting, while real death is a horrible sight.
Sleep is a time when our minds are at rest and the subconscious comes out to play. Sleep is often times considered the place where we are able to see into our future and perhaps figure out how to solve our problems. It is also what heals and cures our minds and bodies. Macbeth ruins the beauty of sleep with his cruel intentions to become King. His desire for the crown not only hinders his ability to sleep, but goes as far as to dread sleep itself. Without sleep people slowly begin to deteriorate, mentally and physically. The mind and body no longer cooperate without the healing force sleep brings with it. To Macbeth sleep is essential, and it makes life worth living. If he must be afraid of it, he can no longer live in peace.