Macbeth Motiff Essay On Sleep Essay, Research Paper
Sleep is a time when everything (thoughts, images, fears, and even people) can be put to rest, its like semi-death, but there in the morning there is a rebirth, a reawakening. Sleep is the asylum and refuge for what is done during the day. The pre-murder of Duncan, the aftermaths of the murder and the realization of what Macbeth has done are all parts of the motif sleep.
“A heavy summons 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.i.6-9) . Banquo says to his son, the night that Macbeth murders Duncan. Banquo doesn t say just what thoughts are disturbing his sleep, but we can guess that they have to do with the witches prophecies. Later in the scene we have, Macbeth tells Banquo that he will reward him if he supports him in something having to do with the witch s prophecies. Banquo shows that he is suspicious of Macbeth s motives and Macbeth ends the conversation by wishing Banquo “Good repose” (II.i.29), a good night’s sleep. That night, Macbeth hallucinates, by seeing a bloody dagger in the air “Now o’er the one half-world / Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse / The curtain’d sleep” (II.i.49-51). Sleep is curtain d but in the dark of night wicked dreams can penetrate the curtains and sleep itself. Here Macbeth is put to rest temporarily, and experiences nightmares only to wake up the next morning having forgotten everything.
After Macbeth murders Duncan, he is so unnerved that he can hardly move. Staring at his bloody hands, he tells his wife that as he left Duncan s chambers, he heard two men in another room: “There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried ‘Murder!’” (II.ii.20). He feels that those two men, even though asleep could see his bloody hands and knew what he had just done. He then tells lady Macbeth that he thought he heard a voice telling him that he would never sleep again, and this speech is one of the most famous in Macbeth:
Me thought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep,” the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave 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.ii.32-37)
A “ravell’d sleave” is somewhat like a tangled ball of yarn. Macbeth uses it as a metaphor for the kind of frustration that he has experienced, the problems that have no-ends. If we were to experience such problems we would probably sleep on it in order to get everything straight. Macbeth compares sleep to a soothing bath after a hard day of work, and also the main course of a feast. He feels that sleep is not only a necessity of life but also something that makes life worth living, and after murdering the king in his sleep he feels as if he has murdered SLEEP itself.
According to Macbeth s Porter, who is still wasted from a night of partying, sleep is one of the side effects of drink, which causes “nose-painting, sleep, and urine” (II.iii.28-29). He says that sleep causes impossible dreams, and that drink makes a man honey but he can not do anything about it, so he must sleep and can only dream about having sex. The Porter also equates sleep with impossible dreams. He says that drink 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. (II.iii.35-36). Later in this scene, just after Macduff discovers the bloody body of Duncan he calls upon Banquo and the king s son to awake, to “Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit, / And look on death itself!” (II.iii.76-77). What he is intending to say is that although sleep and death may look similar, real sleep is downy and comforting, while real death is a horror. Macduff means that although sleep and death may look similar, real sleep is “downy” and comforting, while real death is a horror. Then when Macduff rings the alarm bell, Lady Macbeth enters innocently asking “What’s the business, / That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley / The sleepers of the house?” (II.iii.81-83). Her words remind us that most of the people on stage look as if they have just been awakened from deep sleep. However Macbeth and Lady Macbeth only enter wearing their nightclothes because they want everyone to belief that they were sleeping and are completely na ve to what is going on.
Thoughts, images, fears and people can all be put to rest, semi-death or if you want to put it into one word sleep . Sleep helps Macbeth in this story face his fears, and forget al his wrongdoings. Sleep is the asylum and refuge for what is done during the day, and by murdering Duncan who is seeking refuge and asylum to what he has done during the day by sleeping, Macbeth has murdered sleep. Sleep is the place where all people are meant to feel safe and secure and according to him it is like a soothing bath after a hard day of work, but my killing Duncan he has destroyed the very purpose of sleep