How does Shakespeare convey the idea of a "disturbed mind" in Macbeth?

How does Shakespeare convey the idea of a "disturbed mind" in Macbeth

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A “disturbed mind” is portrayed frequently in the play Macbeth. It is always due to a character's guilt for either murder or participation in murder. It is shown in characters, specifically Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who took their destiny into their own hands and brought about their fates through evil.

After Banquo’s murder, Macbeth holds a banquet. He keeps seeing Banquo’s ghost sitting at the table. Though the ghost does not speak, it haunts Macbeth by its presence, a quiet accusation of murder. Lady Macbeth brushes it away as a momentary illness.

After the deaths of Duncan, his guards, Banquo, and Macduff’s wife and children, even Lady Macbeth begins to lose control of her mental faculties. She walks and talks in her sleep, speaking of the evil that she has done. Her words make others suspicious, even though they do not know for sure her part in all the deaths.

It is the souls of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, blackened with ambition, which open the way for the disturbances of their minds. Without hearts so ready to commit evil, their minds might have overcome the temptations that were placed before them with the revelation of the witches’ prophecies.