Role of Motifs in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Role of Motifs in Shakespeare's Macbeth

The best way to draw a reader into a story is to focus on knowledge drawn from other sources and add to them in a way so that the reader can relate. William Shakespeare achieves just this with his ability to enhance Macbeth with reoccurring motifs throughout the play. Possibly the most prominent ones and those that represent the greatest are the sleep and serpent motifs. J When one possesses a conscience, the function to tell the difference between right and wrong; it impedes the ability to either make positive or negative decisions. If one has a clear conscience, they usually possess the ability to sleep. But when our consciences are full of guilt, they experience a state of sleeplessness. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the sleep and sleeplessness motif to represent Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's consciences and the effect Macbeth's conscience has on the country of Scotland.

Lady Macbeth begins with an unrecognizable conscience. She explains to Macbeth that if she said she would kill her own child, she would rather do the deed than break her word to do so. Soon she begins to develop a conscience. After placing the daggers for Duncan's murder, she makes an excuse for not killing Duncan herself: "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't" (2.2.12-13). These words introduce her conscience. Towards the end of the play, Lady Macbeth falls into a sleepless state, and this sleeplessness represents her guilt for her role in Duncan's death, as well as all the murders Macbeth has committed.
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