The Meaning of Sickness in Macbeth

A common theme of sickness exists in Macbeth; mental and physical struggles between the two main characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The use of sickness as a euphemism for evil and mortality reveals Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s tragic flaw of ignorance. Macbeth’s ill state-of-mind that leads to his demise can be derived from a guilty conscience left from the murders of Duncan and Banquo; Lady Macbeth’s psyche has also been tainted with guilt by the same murders that draw her to suicide.
Macbeth, acquiring the throne and becoming king, forces the country into a dismal and debilitated state; much like his own mindset. Lady Macbeth, mentally ill from deceiving her husband into assassinating his victims, begins talking in her slumber; revealing her involvement in the homicides. Following, these events, Macbeth descends into a state of madness; spiraling down a path of destruction; into a state of paranoia; being ever consumed by the all-knowing fire of Him; the antichrist in all of his glory.
Macbeth suppresses his memories of the homicides further deteriorating his mind which results in his own destruction. In act three scene two, he orders the murder of Banquo in fear of him divulging any information. Speaking to himself, Macbeth says “And with thy bloody and invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond Which keeps me pale.”

The quote depicts a paranoid Macbeth and an even further deteriorated mind; caused by allusions that Banquo could possible find out; that Banquo might kill him in return. In act five scene three, he becomes aware of his current mental state. He calls to Seyton “This push will cheer me ever, or disseat me now. I have lived long enough. My way of life Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf.” In this quote, the yellow leaf represents a sick and dying Macbeth; about to die off to make room for a new king.
Lady Macbeth, distraught by her involvement with the slayings of Duncan and Banquo, falls deep into a state of depression; inevitably leading to her self destruction. In act five scene three, the doctor deduces that there is only a physiological problem with Lady Macbeth and there is nothing he can do.
Speaking to Macbeth, the doctor says “Not so sick, my lord, as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from her rest.” The quote explains that she feels so guilty that it is causing her to have a physical reaction; likely the result of a disorder such as insomnia. In act five scene five, Lady Macbeth lets out a sorrowful moan; Seyton is then sent by Macbeth to check on her only to find that she is already deceased; ironically relieving her of the sickness that plagued her.

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