October 19, 2016

Macbeth’s Mental Stability


‘Glamis, and thane of Cawdor! The greatest is behind. Thanks for your pains.’ – Act 1 Scene 3. At this moment in the play right at the beginning Macbeth’s mind and conscious seems very clear. He doesn’t hint at us any sign of guilt or physiological issues after slaying many soldiers in the war. In fact after he gets given the news that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and become the King in the future, by the three witches, he seems to be very happy. In the quote Macbeth exclaims he is Thane of Glamis and now Cawdor with excitement. He also says the greatest of the three predictions is still coming up. He ends by thanking the witches. This displays his excitement and that he is completely stable with no issues what so ever.


‘If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs’ – Act 1 Scene 3. Just several lines after the first quote Macbeth instantly reveals fear and seconds thoughts about the news delivered by the witches. Macbeth seems to have realised that becoming King would mean Duncan would have to die, and instantly he processes the thought of him committing the crime. With that in his mind he feels frightened by it and develops second thoughts about the news. He says if the news is good why does it make my heart pump out of my chest. At this point confusion and fear seem to have engulfed him. He wishes to be King but doesn’t want to be responsible of killing Duncan. Macbeth is unaware of what to do.

The prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires.’ – Act 1 Scene 4. Macbeth seems to have accepted that he will become King, however he doesn’t seem to suggest that he will kill Duncan but rather Malcolm, Duncan’s son. Macbeth states that Malcolm is in his way to become king as Malcolm is next in line, therefore Macbeth resorts into getting rid of him. In other words killing Malcolm. Macbeth also asks the heavens and God to turn a blind eye on his ‘desires’. Macbeth has ridden his confusion and has made his decision. Whether or not his fear still remains, Macbeth finally reveals that he is determined to become King. His mental state is without a doubt spinning at the moment. He uncovers his dark side to the audience and gives them the feeling he is slightly unstable.

‘If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.’ – Act 1 Scene 7. Macbeth has given into his wife. He will kill Duncan, but is wishes not to. He has been bullied by his wife into making this promise. As he says in the quote Macbeth wants to get this over quickly if he was to do it. Right now this must be eating at Macbeth’s mind. The fact his conscious and gut is saying no, but his wife and his black and deep desires are pressing him. Macbeth would be panicking, his thoughts jumbled up not processing. Its like constant screaming in his head. Macbeth wouldn’t be the right person to have a casual conversation with in that moment of time.

‘Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation,’ –  Act 2 Scene 1. Macbeth is now hallucinating and is picturing a dagger floating before him. He is also unsure whether the dagger is real or not. In this quote he questions its existence, asking if it is a creation of his mind. As Macbeth is hallucinating it just shows that he is currently unstable. He seems to be on the brink of insanity. Hallucinations only occur to people who have gone over the edge of sanity and Macbeth having his mind tormented as finally seemed to have snapped. Macbeth was regarded as a very high prestigious man with a stable brilliant mentality, but has now fell short and crumbled under pressure. Not only that but he hasn’t exactly hit the bottom yet and only been through one whole act and a scene, Macbeth’s character may seem to go through hell in the near future.

‘Full of scorpions is my mind’- Act 3 Scene 2. Macbeth is talking to his wife about the fear that Banquo and Fleance drive him with, whilst Lady Macbeth reveals her regret of killing Duncan. They discuss the trouble and guilt they brought upon themselves and Macbeth ends up saying that by sending people to death is like sending them to peace instead of remaining in the tortures life. Macbeth explains to his wife how Banquo and Fleance, who know about the prophecy and suspect Macbeth for the murder of Duncan. He says that his mind is full of scorpions. Scorpions are painful, poisonous creators that could torment anyone. By using that as a metaphor to describe his mind shows that Macbeth is overwhelmed by fear, guilt, confusion and definitely a lot more emotions. Macbeth’s mind state is still sinking down a deep dark abyss.


‘Which of you have done this?’- Act 3 Scene 4. Macbeth exclaims this as he sees Banquo’s ghost sitting on his chair and believes that someone else in the room set him up. No one else can see the ghost so it is fair to assume Macbeth has created this illusion from his mind after being beaten by guilt. He has already pictured a dagger, but now the ghost of his old friend who he arranged to get murdered. Macbeth talks to the ghost, but gets no reply, which builds on the possibility that it is just a figment of his mind. Hallucinations would only occur to people who are either insane or on the brink of it. With Macbeth hallucinating a ghost proves that guilty has gotten the better of him and that he has lost all hope with recovering his mental stability. Future does not look as good for Macbeth than he and Lady Macbeth imagined.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Aahnaf. The problem with having given you great praise in the past is that now that your work has reached a new level of maturity and insight (as well as a much improved level of linguistic fluency – apart from the last paragraph where there are a few lapses), I have run out of words or terms to use to express how impressed I am with your work.

    I will just have to satisfy myself with the fact that your insight will hopefully extend to yourself – and you will know you’re good at this without having to hear it from me.

    Nice work.

    CW

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