The Use Of Sensory Imagery In Macbeth

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Over history, psychological distress has and will always be significant. Shakespeare brings to the audience's attention all the problems that his generation failed to notice. Since hearing the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth finds himself in a predicament trying to fulfill the prediction of him becoming Thane of Cawdor. However, by Macbeth making an attempt to achieve this, it leads him to suffer with a mental illness. This is seen throughout William Shakespeare’s Scottish play, Macbeth. For instance, when Shakespeare uses sound, sight and hallucinations it helps to develop the psychological torment that Macbeth endures. It is clear to see that the mental illness that the title character undergoes is the reason that drives him to his own downfall. By examining the use of sensory imagery, it is clear to the audience that the psychological torment can take over the psyche of an individual.

Hallucinations can be the product of many factors, but in Macbeths situation it is the result of stress, anxiety and remorse. The title character suffers plenty of traumatic hallucinations throughout the play, one of them involving a dagger. Before the murder takes place Macbeth sees a dagger floating ahead of him: “Is this the dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:/ I have thee not, and yet I see thee still./ Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible / To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but/ A dagger of the mind, a false creation,/ Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?/ I see thee yet, in form as palpable/ As this which now I draw. Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going” (II.I.33-42). This is the first of many acts of insanity the audiences sees from Macbeth. As he acknowledges, with anticipation and perhaps fear, his mind feverish, and he recognizes the ominousness of this dream. His internal conflict has now begun to develop; he’s motivated by his desire to do something, and he subconsciously thinks it’s right. In addition to killing Duncan, Macbeth is further tormented. He begins getting delusional and hallucinating, hearing voices saying; “Sleep no more:/ Macbeth does murder sleep,” (II.II.38-39). The presence of this quote is to show that the guilt Macbeth endures from the murder of Duncan is finally eating away at him. It has distributed Macbeths state of peace in his mind, it has caused him to lose sleep which makes the psychological torment even worse causing him to go crazy. Macbeth has now become guilt-ridden and fearful of this deed he committed.

Macbeth’s psychological conflict begins early in the play when Shakespeare illustrates Lady Macbeths’ power over her husband. Lady Macbeth pushes her husband to become so ambitious so that he could receive the title of being King and get power that he would share with his wife. She does this by convincing him to kill King Duncan, he feels horrified and fears the idea of going through with the deed. His wife manipulates him by insulting and questioning his manhood, which then pushes Macbeth to finally commit the murder to prove her wrong but immediately feels guilty when he is done. “Whence is that knocking? How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?” (II.II.61). The knocking that this scene provides has a powerful and strong influence on Macbeth.  

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