All through the catastrophic play of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the main character, Macbeth, makes countless poor choices. The three witches’, also referred to as the three weird sisters, prophecy is the event that tipped him over the edge and into mental deterioration. From Act 1 to the very ending of act 5, Macbeth suffers through the consequences of his actions and choices which are the ultimate cause of his mental deterioration and downfall, as well as the development of psychological disorders. An encounter with the three weird sisters is the beginning of the end for Macbeth.
The sisters foretell Macbeth the “Thane of Glamis” the he will become “Thane of Cawdor” and “King hereafter! ” “whatever timetable the sister’s work by, this is the psychologically right moment to confront Macbeth with the predictions of greatness (Snyder 202). ” Mostly because he has just came out of battle with Banquo, they had just defeated the allied forces of Norway and Ireland. It was somewhat vulnerable at this point. So it made sense that as soon as part of the prophecy comes true, his inclinations to make decisions becomes solemnly based on his new desire for power, to become and stay king of Scotland.
This greed of power and kingship is his ultimate sin and what mentally drains him. Macbeth writes a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, where he articulates that “Hail, king that shalt be! This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou might’st not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. ” (1. 5. 9-13) In this specific quote , Macbeth implicates to his wife about the chance of him becoming king and he actually want to be king, he desires it. He desires to become king by any means necessary.
With the influence of his wife and the weird sisters’ prophecy still in his mind, he decides to kill the current king of Scotland, King Duncan. With this decision came a price. The first real sign that there was something mentally wrong with him, that something was not right with his ‘noggin. ‘Before Macbeth goes in to kill Duncan, he starts hallucinating. This was the first of many hallucinations. He sees a dagger that makes him wonder: “Is this a 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, And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o’ th’ other senses, Or else worth all the rest. I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,”(2. 1. 44-59) This quote articulates that Macbeth’s guilt towards his decision to kill Duncan is making him see things.
He experiences visual hallucinations. He sees a dagger which he tries to grab but cannot and this makes him question whether it’s real or not. Whether it is his brain playing tricks on him because of his “heatoppressed brain” or not. This is Macbeth first response or reaction to the perception of the dagger and the treason of the mind itself. This goes to show the reader or viewer how guilt towards his the bad decision that he is to follow through with is taking its toll on him. The blood on the “daggers of the mind” signifies him going through with his decision and his oncoming extreme guilt.
The blood he sees now covers both blades and the “dudgeon” a. k. a. the handle where his bloodied hand will stain. This is the first sign that something’s not right with his ‘noggin. ‘ Based on the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorder website, Macbeth is experienced a mood-congruent hallucination. Basically, his excessive guilt for his decision to kill King Duncan has caused him to see the dagger. His guilt is messing with his mental health. He is not going to get any better from here on out. After initially murdering Duncan, Macbeth Starts hallucinating ultimately leading to gradual deterioration of his mind and health.
After Macbeth kills King Duncan he starts becoming and feeling more guilty, paranoid and even more greedy to keep his kinship and power. Immediately after killing Duncan, Macbeth is filled with remorse and panic. This is where he realizes that he has committed a terrible mistake and that he will have to live with this guilt and remorse for the rest of his life. He panics because he believes that he heard a voice that “Still it cried, “Sleep no more! ” to all the house. “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor/ Shall sleep no more.
Macbeth shall sleep no more. ” (2. 2. 54-57). He is telling his wife about a voice he heard crying such things. Avoice that caused him to forget the daggers which he used to kill Duncan. This was an auditory hallucination that came about because of his guilt for the sinful acts he committed. McBeth is also conflicted with his inability to say “Amen” after committing his sinful act. Inability to pronounce “amen” indicates that he sees himself as unholy. This act drives him to become sleepless. He develops insomnia which further deteriorates his psych.
He starts noting his blood covered hands and becomes paranoid when he hears knocking which he does not know where the sound is coming from. He becomes paranoid! More so, when he becomes king. He becomes paranoid and fearful that his kingship will be denounced or taken from him by anyone. His greed for kingship and power lead him to send someone to murder Banquo and Fleance. All because the weird sisters prophecies that Banquo was to father kings. He does this to make sure that Fleance won’t attack his crown. Even though Fleance escaped.
Excessive guilt mixed with paranoia, insomnia and greed for power and kingship leads Macbeth to visually hallucinate again. After learning that Banquo was successfully murdered but that Fleance escaped, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his chair in the royal table. He starts speaking to the ghost as if it were real, all while his in front of company. The people sitting by the table believe that he is not well. Which in reality he really isn’t well. He is seeing and talking to a ghost who he actually believes is able to speak back to him.
The ghost is mocking him. This just further validates Snyder’s point that “Macbeth seems to be haunted by his victim, King Duncan, as well as the present one” (205). This shows that this is not your average person, typical hallucinations. No, it is not. This is the hallucinations of someone who is suffering from something serious. Sometning is seriously wrong with him. According to NYU professor of Neurology Oliver Sacks demented hallucinations tend to basically “accuse you.
They seduce you. They humiliate you. You interact with them. Basically, they intimidate the patient to have an inner conflict with themselves. ” This is exactly what banquo’s ghost is doing to Macbeth. After such horrific encounters Banquo, Macbeth sends people to go murder MacDuff, all because the Weird sister told him to beware of MacDuff. Except that as a result of him not being home they kill his family instead. At this point it’s like he doesn’t even feel anything, nor guilt or remorse, for the people who he send people to kill as opposed to how guilt and remorse was eating him up when he killed King Duncan.
By this point Macbeth has been suffering from multiple symptoms of serious psychological disorders which have lead to the downfall and deterioration of his mental health. Based on the multiple symptoms exhibited and mentioned throughout Shakespeare’s Macbeth play, Macbeth is truly suffering from psychological disorders. One can infer that Macbeth suffers from Insomnia, anxiety, compulsion, psychosis and schizophrenia. Its is clearly stated in the book that he becomes sleepless and he also suffers from anxiety as a result of this.
Personally, I believe that he suffers from ompulsion because he tends to experience absurd fears and logic that edge him to repeatedly have people killed to protect his power and kingship. He also experiences a lot of anxiety. This is evident by his senseless fear of being overthrown by someone, which in result affect his daily functions as well as his overall mental health. The anxiety like i mentioned before is also affected by his insomnia. His psychosis and schizophrenia go hand in hand. Psychosis is a mental health illness or disorder in which a person loses contact with reality and their environment.
This is also a symptom of schizophrenia. Other symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, blunted affect, cognitive impairment, and paranoia. Macbeth exhibits signs of all these symptoms which is why I strongly believe that he is schizophrenic. For instance Macbeth is delusional. After his encounter with the three sisters in Act 4 scene 1, he believes that he is indestructible, invincible. All because they tell him that no one “born of woman” can kill him. Which he takes as nobody can kill him because around this time era most women gave birth naturally.
As a result he believes that he cannot be killed. The hallucinations are the most common symptoms. For instance, he hallucinates seeing a dagger before he kills Duncan, when he ‘hears’ voices crying “Sleep no more! “(2. 2. 54), and again when he ‘sees’ the ghost of Banquo. He also shows signs of blunted effects and by that I mean that he starts not really showing emotions. For instance, when his wife, Lady Macbeth dies, he does not display any signs of emotions almost as if her death doesn’t affect him or bother him at all. Another symptom he seems to exhibit is cognitive impairment.
For instance, in the beginning Macbeth does not feel comfortable at all with killing Duncan. This is why he feels so uneasy and guilty about the decision to do so. He does not feel any real pleasure with anything he does. Not even when he becomes King, Though he is happy to be king, he is more paranoid than anything. He is constantly paranoid that someone will take of threaten his kingship or that Banquo might know about his sinful act, murdering Duncan, or that Banquo is planning something against him and his wife. This displays that Macbeth has lost his connection with reality and is indeed schizophrenic.
Though not directly mentioned in the play, Macbeth’s mental deterioration was based on his development of psychological disorders. Macbeth had a good thing going for himself but they day he meets the three sisters was the day his clock started counting down. His Mental health all started going down the drain and started deteriorating. That was the day he started letting things get to him and he went crazy, he started started normal and ended up with various psychological problems. Like Susan Snyder stated in her modern perspective essay, we see in “Macbeth the hardening and distortion that follows on selfviolation. (206)”