Sleep is a key motif in Macbeth, and it symbolizes a number of things. For one, it represents peace and rest. In the play, sleep is often contrasted with wakefulness, and the characters who are able to get a good night’s sleep are usually those who are at peace.
Sleep also symbolizes innocence. In the play, Lady Macbeth is unable to sleep because she is tormented by her guilty conscience. Her husband, on the other hand, sleeps soundly despite his many crimes.
Finally, sleep can also represent death. This is seen in the character of Banquo, who is murdered in his sleep. His ghost then comes back to haunt Macbeth, further emphasizing the connection between sleep and death.
The term “sleep” is used throughout Macbeth in a variety of ways. One way to interpret Shakespeare’s employment of the word “sleep,” is as a metaphor for purity. This imagery recurs frequently in discussions about Duncan and his murder. Lady Macbeth says, “I would’ve done it had he not resembled / My father when he slept” (II.ii.15-17).
Here, Lady Macbeth uses the word “sleep” as a euphemism for death. She is saying that if Duncan hadn’t looked so much like her own father, she would have been able to kill him.
In this way, sleep becomes a metaphor for innocence. Just as one is vulnerable when they are asleep, so too is Duncan vulnerable when he is killed in his sleep. He is unaware of the danger he is in and unable to defend himself. In this way, his murder can be seen as an act of cowardice on Macbeth’s part.
Throughout the play, there are numerous references to sleeping and waking. For example, after Duncan’s murder, Macbeth says “Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep” (II.ii.57-58). In this instance,
Macbeth is using the word “sleep” to refer to conscience. He is saying that after he killed Duncan, he can no longer enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep because his conscience will not allow it.
The symbol of sleep also appears in the famous soliloquy in which Macbeth contemplates whether or not to kill Banquo. He says “To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself” and “I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’ other” (III.i.140-144).
In this instance, Macbeth is considering the consequences of his actions. He knows that once he kills Banquo, there will be no going back. He will be unable to sleep, and his conscience will torment him.
The symbol of sleep also appears in the Porter scene, which takes place after Lady Macbeth has killed herself. The Porter says “Knocking within
’Faith, here’s an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator” (V.ii.8-12).
In this instance, the Porter is using the word “equivocator” to refer to someone who tells lies. He is saying that Macbeth is a liar who cannot even tell the truth to himself.
Lady Macbeth sees her father in sleeping Duncan, someone who is also a child to her, implying that she views Duncan’s innocence. This may be interpreted as Lady Macbeth maintaining her innocence by forcing Macbeth to kill Dunce opposed to herself. When discussing the guards who are depicted, the connection between sleep and innocence can be seen.
“Had he not resembled/My father as he slept, I had done ‘t. / His sleeping and my stabbing eyes/Did with their deadly looks catch one another， / As who should say ‘I would, thou couldst!’”(2.2.12-16). Here, Lady Macbeth is saying that she only killed Duncan because he looked like her father when he was asleep. This again goes back to the idea that sleep is a time when people are their most innocent state. Just as Lady Macbeth saw her father in Duncan, she also sees her husband in the guards.
The act of killing someone in their sleep can be seen as the most cowardly and dishonorable way to kill someone. It is a way of betraying someone’s trust because when people are asleep, they are at their most vulnerable state.
Sleep is also seen as a symbol of death in Macbeth. Sleep and death are often used interchangeably throughout the play. For example, when Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking, she talks about the “smudged make-up” on her hands, which can be interpreted as bloodstains from the murder of Duncan. She says, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One: two: why then ‘tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!” (5.1.30-33). The word “spot” can also be interpreted as a stain or blemish, which again could represent the bloodstains on her hands.
The doctor in Macbeth says that sleep is the “chief nourisher in life’s feast” (2.2.35). He is saying that sleep is essential for life, just as food is essential for life. Without sleep, people would eventually die. This shows how important sleep is and how it is essential for life.
Sleep is a very important symbol in Macbeth because it represents innocence, death, and the importance of rest. It is used to contrast the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and to show how their actions have affected them. Sleep is something that is essential for life, and it is
After hearing this, Macbeth’s wife says, “Duncan has gone to his grave; after life’s restless fever he rests well” (III.ii.22-26). In this case, “ecstasy” might be understood as madness. This means that not only is Macbeth unable to relax, but he believes he is going insane. All of this leads Macbeth to envy Duncan and the fact that he “sleeps well,” or is dead.
Sleep is a symbol of innocence and purity. In contrast, Macbeth is full of ambition and his hands are stained with blood. He is unable to enjoy a peaceful sleep because his conscience is tormented by the guilt of his crimes.
The lack of sleep also makes Macbeth irritable and paranoid. He starts seeing things that are not really there, such as the floating dagger in Act II scene i. This again highlights the contrast between Macbeth’s state of mind and Duncan’s peaceful sleep.
In short, sleep symbolizes innocence, peace of mind and sanity. The fact that Macbeth can no longer enjoy these things shows how far he has fallen from grace.