Macbeth's Madness: The Enabler

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Madness: The Enabler Many of William Shakespeare's tragedies have a character that seems to go mad. The madness often acts as a catalyst to the story and to the characters downfall. Many historians and critics explore Shakespeare's seemingly obsessive need to include madness in his stories. Historians have tried to determine why he included this and what influences affected his decision to make his tragic characters go insane. Many people say the worst thing in the world is mental illness because we cannot understand it and that being trapped in your own mind is worse than any prison on earth. As I continue to read Shakespearean tragedies I wonder what these plays would have been like if madness had not played a role, would there even be a…show more content…
Macbeth’s first sign of madness occurs when he first witnesses the three witches and hears their prophecy, the audience is not sure if the witches are actually there or if this is in Macbeth’s mind. The audience later sees a dramatic shift in Macbeth in Acts two and three, he listens to his wife and kills the king which then sets off the witch’s prophecy, his conscience comes into play after the deed is done “But why couldn't I say Amen? I had the strongest need to be blessed, yet Amen stuck in my throat." (Macbeth, 2.2. 30-33). This scene is where Macbeth also begins to hear the voices in his head "I thought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more! Macbeth has murdered sleep"-innocent sleep..." (2.2 34-36) This is only the beginning of the things he hears and sees that drive him insane. Macbeth has already killed another person, and we now see his inner conflicts and war start to surface. In Hamlet madness takes the shape of paranoia which is different than Macbeth and King Lear, some scholars believe he was mad, others believe he was pretending. “The mad role that Hamlet plays to perfection is certainly a proof of Shakespeare's genius, but by no means a surety of the insanity of the Prince, unless we be prepared to maintain that no one save a madman can simulate dementia.” (NEW SOURCE) Either way Hamlet’s madness is necessary in his plot against the King, whether he feigns madness in order to convince his step father and his henchmen into believing he is mad or he actually does go mad the story would not function without the

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