ShakespeareLane 448 Sleepwalking Scene in Macbeth Fatima Amer Alsaiari
Sleepwalking :is a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family.Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a stateof low consciousness and perform activities that are usuallyperformed during a state of full consciousness. Theseactivities can be as benign as sitting up in bed, walking to thebathroom, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving,extremely violent gestures, grabbing at hallucinated objects,or even homicide.
The Summary of theScene:At night, in the king’s palace at Dunsinane,a doctor and a gentlewoman discuss LadyMacbeth’s strange habit of sleepwalking.Suddenly, Lady Macbeth enters in a trancewith a candle in her hand. Bemoaning themurders of Lady Macduff and Banquo, sheseems to see blood on her hands andclaims that nothing will ever wash it off.She leaves, and the doctor andgentlewoman marvel at her descent intomadness.
The Importance ofSleepwalking Scene inMacbeth:• When the sleepwalking scene occurs, we haventseen Lady Macbeth on stage for awhile. When we lastsaw her, it was clear that the relationship between herand Macbeth was already beginning to unravel, andthis was her last appearance in the play.• Shakespeare meant for audiences to be SHOCKED bythe extent of Lady Macbeths degradation in thesleepwalking scene.
Cont.• Right after Macbeth killed Duncan, and hadthe Kings blood on his hands, Lady Macbethsaid: "A little water clears us of this deed."When we see her in the sleepwalking scene, werealize how very wrong she was.• It is probably classified as famous because ofits dramatic affect. This scene has the power tochange ones opinion of Lady Macbeth.•To show a character of Shakespearian womenwho is very weak at the end even she pretendsto be a very strong at the beginning.
Analysis of Sleepwalking Scene:Themes:• Guilt•Ghosts and Visions•Darkness, Blood and Sleep.Lady Macbeths language: is choppy, jumping from idea to idea as her state of mind changes.Her sentences are short and unpolished, reflecting a mind toodisturbed to speak eloquently. Although she spoke in iambicpentameter before, she now speaks in prose—thus falling from thenoble to the prosaic.
psychological perspective:• Modern readers find the scene interesting because of thedramatist’s psychological treatment of the consequence ofguilt, but for the contemporary audience the importance ofthe scene must have had something to do with the divine‘vengeance’ for the violation of the divine order, in which theking on earth, represented the king in heaven.• Lady Macbeth appears on the stage in her sleepwalkingwith a light in her hand, and that is a case of phobia ofdarkness.•Light represents knowledge and knowledge meansclearance of phobia of the unknown; for Lady Macbeth itarises out of her fear of persecution, out of the phobia of theunknown divine retribution. All this had been residing in theunconscious, but now her superego is operating so stronglythat it has caused turmoil in the entire psychic process. Thatis why her words have lost coherence; but still theaudience/reader discern pattern in those words, which arereflections on past misdeeds and their consequences.
Irony:• At the beginning of the drama LadyMacbeth had been the mostdetermined, the most cruel and themost inhuman figure, but now insleepwalking scene, she emerges as themost suffering, most disintegrated andmost human figure.• Lady Macbeth was obsessed withtrying to wash the blood that she stillfelt and smelt from her hands, a hugechange from Act II, Scene ii. She said,“Out, damned stop! out I say!” andcontinued with, “What, will thesehands ne’er be clean?”.
Does Lady Macbeth use soliloquy inthe sleepwalking scene?Yes, because the two other people dont actuallyconverse with her.
What did the doctor see in thesleepwalking scene of Macbeth?The doctor found a vantage point from which to witnessthe strange behavior of Lady Macbeth. He witnessed herrequiring a lighted candle. He also witnessed hersleepwalking. He even witnessed her rubbing her handsas if to get rid of the stubborn spots from blood. And hewitnessed her talking to herself about the murders ofKing Duncan, Banquo, and Macduffs entire family andhousehold.
References:• TTMs Guidance for Studying English Literaturehttp://freehelpstoenglishliterature.blogspot.com/2007/09/sleep-walking-scene-in-shakespeares.html• Irony in Macbeth by David Schlachterhttp://www.davidschlachter.com/writings/macirony.php• Macbeth Study Guidehttp://www.gradesaver.com/macbeth/study-guide• Wikipedia• Spakesnotes