Macbeth's tragic insanity

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Insanity is defined as “[the] inability to understand the nature and consequences of one's acts or of events, matters, or proceedings in which one is involved.” In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist turned antagonist, Macbeth, was once “valour’s minion” (I.ii.16) a loyal and devoted nobleman of Scotland. However, he commits a heinous act of regicide in order to ascend the throne, only to become a tyrant who in the end was regarded as nothing but a “dead butcher” (V.ix.35). Macbeth was unarguably sane in the beginning of the play, however, at the end of the play its unclear whether or not Macbeth truly was a “deranged blood hound” (V.ii.32), or if he was still acting on his own accord. Critics may say that this “Bloody sceptered tyrant” (IV.iii.95), who murdered innocent people indiscriminately through the novel befell the holds of insanity, but in truth, Macbeth, whether for better or for worse, never was truly driven insane. An attribute of insanity was previously defined as the inability to understand the consequences of one’s acts or events around one, which furthers the argument that Macbeth was sane. When Macbeth, due to his insecurity of his position as king starts eliminating his enemies, he does display a certain degree of incomprehension towards the consequences of his actions, saying “the very firstlings of my heart shall be/The firstlings of my hand” (IV.i.157-158). However, the very fact that he says he will not take into account what he thinks (such as the consequences of his actions), shows that he indeed does still have the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, hence he is not insane. Towards the end of the book is where Macbeth’s sanity is questioned most. One such question arises up... ... middle of paper ... ... towards Macduff, this not only shows Macbeth’s guilt at having committed such a horrible crime towards Macduff, but also has an inkling of a conscience. From Macbeth’s comprehension of the events taking place around him to his repentance to his conscience, its unarguable that Macbeth at the end of the play was insane. From the beginning, Macbeth fabricates his own demise, eventually going on to control his fate right up till his ruinous end. Once a good, and loyal noble man of Scotland, Macbeth, was driven to by whatever motivation to commit acts of such malice, such cowardice and of such malevolence that it’s an insult to the memory of those whose lives were taken by him, to classify him as merely a ‘deranged hell hound’. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how macbeth, a loyal and devoted nobleman of scotland, was unarguably sane in the beginning of the play, but at the end it's unclear whether or not he was truly driven insane.
  • Analyzes how macbeth's devotedness to the witches prophecies, which some attribute to insanity, shows that he can comprehend the consequences of events and proceedings around him.
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