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Choose a well-known scene or event from a Macbeth play into a short story Essay Example

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    High School
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Act 5 Scene 1-Macbeth

Macbeth is a short play by William Shakespear whose main themes are greed, power and witchcraft. Act 5 scenes 1 is mainly about the confession that Lady Macbeth makes about the murders that she and her husband have committed in the past. This scene has only three characters. The characters are the doctor, the gentlewoman and Lady Macbeth who is sleepwalking. Macbeth is part of the scene but only in Lady Macbeth’s imagination not real. The scene is an interesting one and has elements that can make it into a good short story. A short story is the narration or demonstration of a play, song or poem. This scene has used different styles of writing like rhymes; the atmosphere of the scene has also been set, colloquial English and monologues especially in the part where Lady Macbeth starts to confess about the murders and when she is speaking to an imaginary Macbeth.

The scene is mainly based on Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking. The lady thought that after her husband came to power, the murders will not matter and no one will hold them accountable. This does not happen because she ends up confessing everything that she did. Her conscious is what is holding her accountable for her deeds and not any human being.

The scene starts with a gentle woman and the doctor busy discussing Lady Macbeth’s sleep walking. The gentle woman narrates to the doctor that she has watched the lady while sleeping, rises from her bed, unlock her closet, pick a paper and starts to draft on it, seals it and returns to bed. The doctor questions the credibility of this report because he has watched Lady Macbeth sleep for two nights but he has never witnessed her sleep walking. “I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walked?” The doctor sympathizes with the lady’s lack of sleep when he says that “A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching! In this slumber agitation, besides her walking and other actual performances, what, at anytime, have you heard her say?” What the doctor means is that the lady must be very troubled for her to act as if awake while sleeping. The gentlewoman informs him that the lady’s sleep walking only started after his majesty-Macbeth left for the field.

Lady Macbeth and her husband have committed several murders in the past and now the Lady is having sleepless nights because of the guilt that has built inside her. She confesses to the murders in her sleep. The gentlewoman is a witness but she refuses to narrate the details of the confession to the doctor because there is no other witness who can ascertain to it. “That, sir, which I will not report after her” The doctor tries to convince her but she refuses to utter a word. “Neither to you nor any one; having no witness to confirm my speech”. While they are still gossiping, Lady Macbeth enters with a light. The doctor inquires with curiosity why the Lady is standing by the light and the gentlewoman informs him that the light is her command. «Why, it stood by her: she has light by her continually; ’tis her command». The doctor then says,
«You see, her eyes are open»and the gentlewoman replies, «Ay, but their sense is shut». This
shows that Lady Macbeth, who in the past eagerly awaited the darkness for King Duncan’s murder, is now afraid of the dark.
Although her eyes are open, she can only see her own memories of murder and the ghosts that haunt her.
The light symbolizes openness and a sense of freedom that Lady Macbeth wants to feel because in the dark she and the master took comfort in darkness and they believed that it hides their crimes and impunities even from themselves. While she is sleep walking, the lady keeps rubbing her hands as if trying to get rid of something that is stuck on her hands. This symbolizes the blood that they have shed and she is trying to wash it off her hands. She regrets and feels guilty of the murders that she had been part of. The rubbing of hands has been used to symbolize the guilt that the lady is trying to get rid of. The atmosphere established through her sleep walking and confessions is emotional, scary and intense.

“Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why, then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” This paragraph takes the form of a monologue, where lady Macbeth remembers the night of the murder and she starts confessing on what she had done. The memories tumble back to her and she blurts out the details without fear. The gentlewoman fears that the Lady has said a lot and she might get into trouble because of her confession. In the first line of the second paragraph of the lady’s confession, rhyme has been used when the lady confesses that the man she had murdered had a wife but she is also dead. “The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?” The lady continues to wonder if her hands will ever be clean and without blemish again and in her confessions, she relieves the horrors of Duncan’s murder and confirms that Banquo is buried and cannot get out of the grave. “I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on’s grave”. When she says this, she is trying to reassure herself that Banquo’s ghost cannot haunt her because he is buried and cannot and will never get out of the grave. In the next line she says that she will never repeat the act again and asks God to give her a new start when she says “No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with this starting”. She confesses that she will never repeat the act again because of the guilt that is eating her up inside. She keeps rubbing her hands in a mode to wash the blood away but she still sees the blood. She confirms that “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O!” She knows that no matter how long it takes or how hard she tries to wash off the blood from her hands, the guilt will never go away and the ghosts of the people she murdered together with her husband will never stop hunting her.

As hard as she was trying to wash off the blood that she was seeing on her hands, the blood couldn’t come out and so the lady decided to cut off her hands so that the blood can disappear once and for all, but this didn’t happen. She only lost so much blood because of bleeding and luckily the gentlewoman who takes care of her found her bleeding and she quickly called the doctor. The doctor came and attended to her, he treated the wounds and the lady was well again. From the cutting of hands incident, the doctor started understanding what is troubling Lady Macbeth and this makes him nervous and full of fear. With this he explains to the gentlewoman to keep an eye on the lady and make sure that she does not hurt herself during her sleep walking activities. The doctor on the other hand, trusts the lady and still believes that the lady might be innocent and he gives her the benefit of the doubt when he says “known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.”

At the end of the scene, Lady Macbeth through a monologue where she imagines that she is communication with Macbeth, reminds him to wash his hands and confirms to him that Banquo is dead so he should not worry about his ghost coming to haunt him. She encourages him by telling him that “what’s done cannot be undone” and he leads him to bed-“to bed, to bed, to bed!” The lady goes straight back to bed and at this juncture, the doctor realizes that no physician can help or cure the lady from what she is suffering from, only God can. He realizes that only her soul is sick and that he needs divine power, “more needs she the divine than the physician.”

Lack of strength for fighting the guilt that she has and how crazy it has made her prompts Lady Macbeth to commit suicide. Although the lady keeps reassuring herself and her husband that Banquo will not come back to haunt her or the master, the lady still ends up committing suicide as a way of freeing herself from all the guilt that she feels. While the doctor and the gentlewoman are busy talking about her after she exits and goes back to bed, the lady instead of going to bed goes straight to the balcony while still sleep walking. She climbs on the wall of the balcony and tries to fly away like the birds; she wants to fly away from these murders that she committed. She ends up falling at the foot of the castle dead. After she is found lying there dead, the doctor points out that “Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds, to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets”

Work Cited

Navigator, Macbeth. Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1: Enter a Doctor of Physic and a Waiting- Gentlewoman. Retrieved on, August 5, 2013 from <www.shakespear-navigator.com>