Why does Macbeth say "Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor / Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The lines that Macbeth speaks to his wife about sleep are among the most beautiful Shakespeare ever wrote. Here they are in full:

MACBETH
Me thought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth Murder sleep”—the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast—

LADY MACBETH:
What do you mean?

MACBETH
Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house;
“Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.”

The whole play, like all Shakespeare's plays, is written in poetry recited by the various characters. Shakespeare's poetry, it should go without saying, is what is best in Shakespeare. Shakespeare's poetry is Shakespeare. Here Macbeth is quoting a voice he thought he heard. He says it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house. That seems intended to answer the question of why he doesn't...

(The entire section contains 826 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team