Schizophrenia in Macbeth Essay

1025 Words 5 Pages
While the diagnosis of mental conditions is considered a modern practice, people throughout history have suffered similar mental illnesses but have gone undocumented or unstudied. But even without scientific or psychological records, mental illness can clearly be derived from historical figures and works of art. As early as the 1600s, characters in literary pieces are known to depict characteristics of modern mental labels. During this time period, mental illnesses were generally credited to witchcraft or demonic possession. Though the explanations seem farfetched, the symptoms of what are now seen as neurological disruptions remain the same. In William Shakespeare’s seventeenth century play Macbeth, several characters portray …show more content…
Lady Macbeth is the initial instigator of Duncan’s murder who attacks Macbeth’s manhood and lack of ambition in an attempt to coerce him into fulfilling her plot. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth become delusional with the prospect of power that Macbeth’s possible kinghood presents them and take these delusions with an exaggerated manner often associated with schizophrenia. Along with delusions of the mind, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth also exhibit the experience of hallucinations that coincide with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first instance of these hallucinations occurs as Macbeth heads towards Duncan’s chamber with the intention of killing him. Along the way, Macbeth sees the image of “A dagger of the mind, a false creation” (2.1. 50). This hallucination becomes the first insight into Macbeth’s condition as he continues to deteriorate after the killing of Duncan. As Macbeth’s observable bout with schizophrenia continues, he has other hallucinatory experiences. At the banquet in Act 3, Macbeth envisions the ghost of Banquo sitting at his place in the dining hall. Macbeth becomes increasingly agitated and eventually must be escorted out by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, however, does not go without her own set of hallucinatory moments. Throughout the play, she continually imagines herself drenched in blood, namely the ones for which she is responsible. In the final act she has begun ranting on in an incoherent manner, yet another

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