02/13/2011 § Leave a comment


First Witch: “I’ll drain him dry as hay.

Sleep shall neither night nor day

Hang upon his penthouse lid.

He shall live a man forbid.

Weary sev’nights, nine times nine,

Shall he dwindle, peak and pine.

Though his bark cannot be lost,

Yet it shall be tempest-tost.

Look what I have” (1.3.18-26).

The witches talk in riddles to Macbeth and Banquo. She tells them of what she did to a woman’s husband. She controlled the direction of the wind and she will keep his eyes from closing. The witch is foreshadowing the events to come involving Macbeth’s actions and plans.



02/13/2011 § Leave a comment


Banquo: “Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry in heaven;

Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.

A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,

And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,

Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature

Gives way to in repose!” (2. 1. 4-9).

Banquo is restless and is incapable of sleeping, although he very much desires to sleep. This is foreshadowing the event of Duncan’s murder, which will leave the rest of the castle restless and unable to sleep after Duncan’s murder. This specifically applies to Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, who will eventually feel terribly guilty for their actions, despite becoming King and Queen of Scotland. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth will not be able to sleep as a result of nightmares.

Banquo: “What, sir, not yet at rest? The King’s abed.

He hath been in unusual pleasure and

Sent forth great largess to your offices.

This diamond he greets your wife withal

By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up

In measureless content” (2. 1. 12-16).

Banquo remarks to Macbeth as to why he isn’t sleep, which he finds peculiar because the King is asleep, as well as the chamberlains. Of course, Lady Macbeth gave the chamberlains a sleeping potion to put them to sleep. This is significant because it foreshadows how Lady Macbeth will frame the servants for King Duncan’s death by putting Macbeth’s dagger under one of their pillows, and how Macbeth will kill Duncan while he is asleep.

Macbeth: “It is the bloody business which informs

Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one half-world

Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse

The curtained sleep” (2. 1. 48-51).

Prior to murdering King Duncan, Macbeth is distraught. Either his eyes are mistaken or his other senses are. Macbeth refers to the world that Duncan is living in now, the half-world, the world of sleep, in which nature appears to be dead. In this world of sleep, wicked dreams or nightmares, plague those that are sleeping. This foreshadows the idea that Macbeth will eventually be effected by these “wicked dreams” after he kills Duncan.


02/13/2011 § Leave a comment


Lady Macbeth: “Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,

And ‘tis not done! The attempt, and not the deed,

Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;

He could not miss ‘em. Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done’t” (2. 2. 9-13).

In this scene Lady Macbeth thinks the castle has awaken from their sleep, when it is really just Macbeth returning from killing Duncan. She refers to how she has laid the servants’ daggers, to make them appear to have killed Duncan. If Duncan does survive, then they will be killed as Duncan’s attempted murderers, and Macbeth will appear innocent. This is important as Macbeth, in fact, is never accused of being Duncan’s murderer because the servants are seen to be the obvious traitors. Lady Macbeth also says that she would have killed Duncan herself, reveling that her ambition to become Queen of Scotland is as strong as Macbeth’s, however she couldn’t bring herself to kill him because he resembled her father. Throughout Act I Lady Macbeth shows little to no compassion, and it isn’t until now Lady Macbeth shows any humanity. Later, in Act Five Lady Macbeth his completely guilt-ridden about the influence she has had on Macbeth. She tries to wash invisible blood off her hands, as if Duncan’s murder was her fault, even though she was not the one who killed him.

Macbeth: “There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried


That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them.

But they did say their prayers and addressed them

Again to sleep” (2. 2. 22-25).

As a consequence to murdering Duncan, Macbeth becomes severely paranoid. He thinks he hears someone laughing in their sleep, and another crying “Murder!” out-loud while they were sleeping. Perhaps, he thinks, they woke each other but then returned to bed. Macbeth’s paranoia is important because it is what later on leads Macbeth to kill others in his plot. In order for him to maintain the thrown, he kills others to disguise his lies and prevent others from usurping the thrown from himself. This paranoia is a result from excessive ambition to become king, which Shakespeare shows is unhealthy.

Macbeth: “Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep”–the innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the raveled 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” (2. 2. 35-40).

This is another example of Macbeth’s paranoia in the same scene. Here, Macbeth is confessing to Lady Macbeth that he believes he heard someone say, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep!” He calls it the innocent sleep, perhaps realizing that Duncan was unaware about the danger and not doing anyone harm while he slept. And yet, Macbeth killed. Further, Macbeth proceeds to talk about how sleep eases worries, relieves the aches of physical work, soothes those who have anxiety, and nourishes the body and mind like food. Sleep appears meaningful to Macbeth, though he will never be able to rest peacefully without nightmares after Duncan’s death.

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!” (2. 2. 41-43).

Once again, Macbeth exhibits paranoia and more anxiety subsequently after Duncan’s murder. These voices or hallucinations, however, are important because they reveal more about what Macbeth thinks of the situation. He believes he has murdered innocent sleep, as if sleep is an innocent child. Children are never suppose to be harmed because they are innocent. Therefore, Macbeth has cursed himself by killing sleep, forcing him to never be able to sleep again. In this case, Macbeth will be unable to sleep because he is preoccupied by nightmares and frightening dreams brought on by Duncan’s death.

Lady Macbeth: “The sleeping and the dead

Are but as pictures. ‘Tis the eye of childhood

That fears a painted devil” (2. 2. 53-55).

Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he is essentially spouting nonsense. The dead and those asleep can’t hurt any more than pictures can. She criticizes him by saying that only children are afraid of scary pictures. Relating those who are dead and those sleeping is a metaphor often utilized throughout the play, as many people look dead while they are asleep and vice verse. The purpose of this quote is to portray Lady Macbeth’s initial views of Macbeth’s paranoia. Lady Macbeth feels that Macbeth should cast that feeling away, just as she has. Which is ironic, because Lady Macbeth does in fact feel extremely guilty later on.

Macbeth: “To know my deed, ’twere best no know myself.


Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!” (2. 2. 73-74).

Along with paranoia, Macbeth also appears to be struggling with the weight of his decisions. Rather than have to think about the treason he just committed, Macbeth would prefer to forget about his conscience. The sound of knocking as been happening periodically, and Macbeth wishes anything that the knocking would wake Duncan. However, this couldn’t possibly be the case because Macbeth killed Duncan while he was sleeping. This indecision, remorse, and lack of confidence in his choices and Lady Macbeth’s confidence and void of guilty is eventually reversed at the end of the play. This is significant because Shakespeare satirizes the roles of men and women in the Renaissance age by swapping the roles of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth throughout the play.


02/13/2011 § Leave a comment


Macduff:Awake, awake!

Ring the alarum bell. Murder and treason!

Banquo and Donalbain! Macolm! awake!

Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,

And look on death itself! Up, up, and see

The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!

As from your graves rise up and walk like sprites

To countenance this horror! Ring the bell!” (2. 3. 74-75).

In this specific scene, Macduff goes to wake King Duncan only to find him dead. Macduff calls out murder and treason, for someone to ring the alarm, and then for Banquo, Donalbain and Malcolm. He instructs them to shake off sleep, which looks like death (death’s imitation), and look at death itself. Get up and look at this image of doomsday, get up as if you were rising out of your own graves, and walk like ghosts to come witness this horror. The comparisons between death and sleep are reoccurring in Macbeth, as one can often be mistaken for the other. With nightmares Macbeth is incapable of sleep, and eventually will feel that death is preferable to life and mental anguish.


02/12/2011 § Leave a comment


Macbeth: “But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,

Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep

In the affliction of these terrible dreams

That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead,

Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,

Than on the torture of the mind to lie

In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;

After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well” (3. 2. 17-22).

This quote relates to a major theme of the play, which is that all actions have consequences and one should not act purely on impulses and desires. Macbeth acted rashly at the beginning of the play when he decided to kill Duncan. He didn’t fully think through the consequences, and now he feels extremely guilty. The torture of these nightmares that Macbeth is going through will help to bring about his downfall.


02/12/2011 § Leave a comment


Lady Macbeth: “You lack the season of all natures, sleep” (3. 4. 42).

Lady Macbeth is trying to convince Macbeth to try and put the deaths that are on his conscience out of his mind. This demonstrates how Macbeth has been suffering from insomnia because he has to try and force himself to sleep since it doesn’t come to him naturally, like the seasons.



02/12/2011 § Leave a comment


Macbeth: “That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies

and sleep in spite of thunder” (4. 1. 84-85).

Macbeth is deciding that he is going to kill Macduff for insurance that he will be safe on the throne. He is saying that he is going to push away his fear and try to continue his life despite and guilty feelings he has. This relates to the theme that the supernatural controls fate, and it foreshadows Macbeth’s downfall. Though Macbeth is trying to ignore the thunder of the gods, it is futile because his destiny is already set.




    "There will be sleeping enough in the grave." - Benjamin Franklin

    "Sleep... Oh! how I loathe those little slices of death." - Author Unknown

    "A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow." - Charlotte Brontë

    "The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

    "O bed! O bed! delicious bed! That heaven upon earth to the weary head." - Thomas Hood

    "It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it." - John Steinbeck

    "Sleep, rest of things, O pleasing Deity, Peace of the soul, which cares dost crucify, Weary bodies refresh and mollify." - Ovid

    "All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own." - Plutarch

    "Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals." - Vladimir Nabokov

    "For sleep, one needs endless depths of blackness to sink into; daylight is too shallow, it will not cover one." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    "There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more." - Woody Allen

    "Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life." - Virginia Woolf

    "Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep: And yet a third of Life is passed in sleep." - Lord Byron

    "True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment." - Sir William Penn

    "Even where sleep is concerned, too much is a bad thing." - Homer

    "Sleep is pain's easiest salve, and doth fulfill all the offices of death, except to kill." - John Donne