One of the most significant motifs in Macbeth relates to sleep and sleeplessness. Find and copy out 3 quotations from 3 different scenes...   One of the most significant motifs in Macbeth...

One of the most significant motifs in Macbeth relates to sleep and sleeplessness. Find and copy out 3 quotations from different scenes...

 

One of the most significant motifs in Macbeth relates to sleep and sleeplessness. Find and copy out three quotations from three different scenes in which this motif appears.

For each quotation, give the following information: 


·      The act, scene, and line numbers


·      The speaker and his or her situation


·      The significance of the quotation (why it’s important)

 

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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The following quotation occurs in act 2 sc.2. The lines are spoken by Macbeth as he returns from Duncan's chamber after the 'deed' :

" Methought 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,--" (lines 36-41)

These lines reveal Macbeth's tormented conscience. He killed Duncan when the king was asleep & now suffers from a sense of guilt and fear that he would be cursed with the punishment of sleeplessness. Macbeth reflects on the restorative, comforting & healing qualities of sleep. For him, Duncan in a state of sleep was sleep personified & by killing him, he has killed sleep, a natural gift given to man.

Now look at the following quotation from act 2 sc.3, the words spoken by Macduff just after having discovered the murder of Duncan in Macbrth's castle :

" Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,

And look on death itself ! up, up, and see

The great doom's image !"     (lines 62-64)

Macduff, extremely shocked and confosed, asks Banquo, Malcolm, Donalbain and all others to wake up from their sleep. Sleep is 'death's counterfeit' i.e. an unreal copy of death; Macduff asks them all to get rid of the possession of the unreal to see what real death could be.

Now this what Macbeth says in act 3 sc.2 during his exchanges with Lady Macbeth :

".......................... Duncan is in his grave;

After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;"  (lines 22-23)

Macbeth is now the king of Scotland, but he suffers from guilt, fear, the curse of sleeplessness. It is an irony that he now envies his victim; by killing Duncan he has given him the chance to sleep in all peace for ever. The burden of feverish restlessness, which is the burden of life, now rests on Macbeth as a crushing load.

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