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Examples Of Lack Of Sleep In Macbeth

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Some say that one’s sleeping habits can tell a lot about one’s personality. The play
Macbeth by William Shakespeare describes a thane named Macbeth who is prophesized to become King. To achieve this title, he decides to kill the king, Duncan, while Duncan is sleeping. Following the murder, Macbeth is unable to sleep because of his guilt. Lady Macbeth, who assisted Macbeth with the murder, eventually also experiences sleep disorders. Sleep represents innocence in the play because innocent characters are associated with sleep, and guilty characters are characterized with lack of sleep.
The witches’ discussion about punishing a sailor introduces the connection between guilt and sleeplessness. One of the witches comes across a sailor’s wife who
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While drugged, the guards lie on the ground in a deep sleep and cannot do anything. Therefore, they are innocent because they do nothing wrong due to being asleep. After killing Duncan, Macbeth says that he will “‘[s]leep no more’” and that he “‘murder[ed] sleep’” (2.2.47­48). Macbeth cannot sleep because of his guilt caused by the murder. By killing Duncan, he killed his ability to sleep, as well as his innocence.
Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking shows how she is guilty of murdering Duncan yet at the same time innocent. The doctor that examines her describes her condition as “a great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching” (5.1.10­12). Though Lady Macbeth is asleep, she acts as if awake. In her sleep, she attempts to wash blood off her hands and wonders if “these hands [will] ne’er be clean” (5.1.44­45). Lady Macbeth is reliving the murder of Duncan, a deed that she was both innocent and guilty of committing. She is guilty because she came up with the plan and took part in the murder, and she is showing this by subconsciously confessing and trying to cleanse herself of the sin. Yet, she is still innocent because she did not directly kill Duncan. This fits with her behavior of being simultaneously awake, representing guilt, and asleep, representing

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