Macbeth Insight
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." (II, ii, 50-52) Sleep is one of the most powerful and most used
words in the play Macbeth. Its use and implications span between both Macbeth
and Lady Macbeth. Through sleep you can see the changes that go on between the
two aforementioned characters. Sleep in the play is used as a way to show how
the characters evolve and transform into that which is most feared by those
characters. Before the witches prophesize to Macbeth they vow to whip up a storm
and destroy the ship of a sailor. Interestingly the witches do not say that they
want to murder the sailor. Instead, they plan to destroy his sleep: I\'ll drain
him dry as hay; Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his pent-house lid.

He shall live a man forbid. (I, iii, 19-22). For the witches the inability to
sleep is symbolic of a tormented soul. The man who cannot sleep lives in chaos,
night is day and day is night. To the characters in Macbeth sleep is the,
"chief nourisher in life\'s feast" (II, ii, 48) without it one becomes
mad. Characters invoke the word sleep as a symbol of order. But in the play
sleep is also a complicated term because it represents a character\'s control
over their lives. When characters cannot control their sleeping habits they have
entered into the realm of chaos where the fires burn and the cauldrons bubble.

Macbeth, his arms soaked in blood after murdering Duncan turns to Lady Macbeth.

Surprisingly some of his first words to Lady Macbeth are, "Macbeth does
murder sleep,\' the innocent sleep,/ Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of
care," (II, ii, 44-45). Macbeth\'s first admonition that his decision to
murder Duncan has destroyed him, is his recognition that he will no longer be
able to sleep. Racked by guilt Macbeth instantly recognizes that the order
around him is turned upside down. Macbeth\'s rule is of darkness for Scotland and
inner turmoil for himself. Ross speaking to an old man describes Macbeth\'s

Scotland by saying, "Is it night\'s predominance, or the day\'s shame,/ That
darkness does the face of earth entomb,"(II, iv, 9-10). Macbeth, like the
owl, both hunts and rules by the shadow of night. And like the owl he cannot
sleep at night. He is a creature of chaos. Lady Macbeth as she is eaten up by
guilt and goes mad is robbed of the ability to control her sleeping habits. She
is robbed not like Macbeth of the ability to sleep but the ability to stay
awake. Lady Macbeth lives in a surreal world where she writes, washes, and walks
all in a fast sleep. The doctor who attends her before her death describes it by
saying: I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon her, unlock
her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon it, read it, afterwards seal
it, and again return to bed. Yet all this while in a most fast sleep. (V, i,

4-7). The use of the word sleep to describe Lady Macbeth\'s actions is
fascinating for Lady Macbeth before her death is not really sleeping as much as
living in a hallucination state. The fact that her altered state is referred to
as sleeping is not really true to the definition of sleep. Sleep is usually
defined as a time for the body to rejuvenate. But Lady Macbeth was not in a
state of rejuvenation when she slept. To her sleep was the torment that being
awake was to Macbeth. Lady Macbeth\'s sleep is representative of the portrayal of
a woman\'s place in the play Macbeth. As a woman her guilty conscience makes her
sleep. Her madness makes her benign. Lady Macbeth is the prototype of the
madwoman in the attic who lives in a state of semi-sleep, mumbling to herself,
and washing her hands. She poses no threat to anyone but herself. Her madness
makes her less dangerous then when she was in control of her senses. In contrast
the inner chaos of Macbeth causes him to be awake. His madness makes him
dangerous. His inability to sleep causes his mind to grow bloodier and his rule
over Scotland more treacherous. Macbeth\'s madness is characteristically
masculine. In his madness he achieves the thickening of his blood that Lady

Macbeth wishes for. Macbeth becomes emboldened and more violent; he becomes more
awake. In contrast Lady Macbeth undergoes a feminine transformation as