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How did Macbeth's mental health deteriorate?

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alyssaluponioo | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:55 PM via web

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How did Macbeth's mental health deteriorate?

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:54 PM (Answer #1)

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There are a few different stages to Macbeth's mental deterioration. In Act II, we see Macbeth nearly paralyzed with guilt over the murder of Duncan. We understand that, while he is ambitious, regicide was not his intended plan for gaining power. In Act III, we see the growth of his guilt. He thinks he sees Banquo at the dinner table, when he knows that Banquo is dead. He speaks to the ghost, not realizing at first that everyone cannot see him. Eventually, Lady Macbeth has to break up the dinner party, excusing her husband for being ill. In Act IV, out of desperation, Macbeth visits the witches again and demands to know more. Feeling empowered by their prophecies, he embraces battle with Malcolm. He feels like he is undefeatable, and using that feelings to let his hungry for power consume him, making him mad with power. Ultimately, he is forced to face reality in his battle with Macduff, which ends with his death.

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