Sleep and Nature

In Shakespeare's, Macbeth, there seems to be an uncanny connection between the images of sleep and nature. The play refers to the results of nature being thwarted, and since sleep is the primarily natural function of every human being, its seems the most appropriate in relaying the theme. Macbeth, in his natural state, is an honorable member of the King's loyal court. At the time he is introduced, he is being promoted to Thane of Cowdor because the former thane had been treasonous against the state of Scotland. Upon meeting the witches, Macbeth begins to consider rebellion against his natural state, yet nature remains static until Macbeth murders the King Duncan, as he sleeps. When "Lord Glamis had murdered sleep" (II. 2. 41), the downward spiral of nature changing its course is propelled. When Macbeth murders Duncan in his sleep, he murders sleep itself, the most natural thing in the world, thus causing nature itself to be skewed on both a personal and cosmic level.

The witches themselves begin the idea of nature not being as it seems. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I.1.12). Banquo notices their unnaturalness. "You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so....

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