In Macbeth, what is the mood for Act 5 scene 1?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When we think of mood we refer to the overall emotion created by a work of literature. This emotion can normally be described succintly using an adjective or two. Let us consider what happens in this scene first before deciding what the mood is. This scene opens with the whispered conversation of the doctor and the gentlewoman who are discussing Lady Macbeth's condition and how she is sleepwalking and whilst sleepwalking saying things that the gentlewoman is not willing to repeat. Lady Macbeth enters and appears to be washing her hands in her sleep and confesses her involvement in the murder. As she exits, the doctor and gentlewoman discuss the state of Lady Macbeth but also of Scotland before the scene ends:

Foul whisp'rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds

Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds

To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.

More needs she the divine than the physician...

The mood therefore seems to be one of menace and despair, as we see Lady Macbeth, who was formerly so resolute, break down under the weight of the evil that she has abandoned her self to, and we feel sympathy for her character. Likewise the way that her acts have not just impacted herself but also all of Scotland gives rise to a real feeling of menace, as we await the invasion of Malcolm's forces to liberate Scotland.

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