Although Macbeth may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, his suffering does not constitute insanity. Macbeth was in a healthy mindset when he embarked on his murderous spree and treacherous rule of Scotland. His actions and reactions prior to and throughout his tenure as King of Scotland were normal considering the circumstances. The following evidence will prove that Macbeth was indeed sane.
The first thing I would like to point out is Macbeth's clear understanding of his motives and their consequences. After he heard the prophecies of the weird sisters, his ambition got the best of him. He immediately considered murdering Duncan and the morality of the murder. Macbeth knew his thoughts were wrong and said to the stars, "hide your fears, let not see my black and deep desires (I.4.50-51)." This acknowledgment of the sinfulness of his desires shows that Macbeth's mind was functioning properly. Macbeth also acknowledges that there would be consequences if he murdered Duncan. He thought to himself, " if the assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch with his surcease, success (I.7.2-4)," the decision to murder Duncan would be easier. These examples prove that Macbeth was not impulsive with his thoughts. Instead, like anyone else, he realized the gravity of his desires. If Macbeth was insane, he would not have thought twice about the murder and its consequences.
Macbeth also demonstrates guilty feelings when he considers murdering Duncan. These guilty feelings came about when he analyzed the relationship between himself and Duncan. Not only was he Duncan's subject and soldier, he was Duncan's host. He realized that ...
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... I firmly conclude that he was a sane man. He acted the way any human being would if presented with the same situations. I feel that his behaviors that seemed to be due to insanity were really the result of Macbeth's fears, anxieties, and stress. Macbeth should be held fully accountable for his actions because he was not the victim of a mental illness. He clearly understood what he was doing and the consequences of his actions.
English 366: Studies in Shakespeare Introduction to Macbeth http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/eng366/index.htm Accessed June 2003
Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.
Shakespeare's Macbeth, a Play for our Time Found at http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/mac/intro.html Accessed June 2003
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