In Macbeth, explain how Lady Macbeth shows sign of her madness prior to her death.
Macbeth learns of his wife's suicide just before he is to do battle for Dunsinane and does a monologue about her (lines 17 - 28).
Did he even know that she was going to kill herself?
In Act three, Scene two, Macbeth admits to Lady Macbeth his plans to find "peace" for his troubled mind. He is insinuating that he will have Banquo murdered. He states that both he and Lady Macbeth are having terrible night visions and that they cannot live with the madness from the nightmares:
Before we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That wake us up nightly. It’s better to be with the dead,
Whom we have sent to their peace to gain our peace,
Than to lie on a bed, torturing of the mind
In a restless frenzy.
This is Act three, Scene two. This is prior to Lady Macbeth's sleep walking. At this point, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are having terrible dreams about the murdering of King Duncan. Their guilt is getting to them.
Macbeth is afraid of Banquo. Even though King Duncan is out of the way, Macbeth fears Banquo:
O, my mind is full of scorpions, dear wife!
You know that Banquo and his son, Fleance, live.
Then in Act five, Scene one, we see a doctor and a gentlewoman talking. The gentlewoman has observed Lady Macbeth sleep walking. Lady Macbeth is quite troubled. While they are talking, Lady Macbeth begins sleep walking. She is trying to rid her hands of bloodstains. The doctor observes her:
What’s she doing now? Look how she rubs her hands.
Lady Macbeth is deeply troubled, trying to get the spots of blood off her hands:
Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One; two; why, then it is
time to do it. Hell is murky! For shame, my lord, for shame! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?
Clearly, Lady Macbeth has gone mad. She is so guilty until she cannot find rest for her soul. Even the doctor determines that her sickness is a spiritual sickness. He tells the gentlewoman to keep a close eye on her and to keep annoyances from her:
She needs the divine more than she needs the physician.
God, God, forgive us all! Look after her.
Take everything from her that she might use to harm herself.
Clearly, Lady Macbeth has a troubled soul. She cannot go on in this manner. In Act five, Scene three, the next thing we hear is that Macbeth is seeking for the doctor to cure Lady Macbeth:
Cure her of that.
Can’t you minister to a diseased mind?
Pluck a rooted sorrow from the memory?
Wipe out the written troubles of the brain,
And cleanse the burdened heart of that dangerous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart with some sweet antidote
Which will make her oblivious to all those things?
The doctor informs Macbeth that he cannot help her and he leaves.
Then in Act five, Scene five, Seyton reports to Macbeth:
The queen, my lord, is dead.