The story of Macbeth is another attempt of William Shakespeare to represent the deeds of a man, as a reason of psychic disorder. Insanity is the reason for most of the negative deeds in the world. This statement needs more proof. In this respect, the psychological aspects of Macbeth are taken into account. The thing is that before and after the murder of King Duncan Macbeth shows the patterns of some psychological features. This point is under a thorough analysis.
The character of Macbeth is an illustration of a man who hesitates a little, but then does the wrong action which falls into his moral effect. In other words, the whole picture of the abyss in which Macbeth put himself is realized with the fact that the character was too ambitious from the very beginning. This short play comprises the feelings and the evidence of despair in a man. Such despair is the result of psychic pathology in Macbeth.
First of all, it is vital to have a look at his survey on life and people. Macbeth is the general in the army of King Duncan. He intends his forces to provide courage and brevity in the battle for the sake of the crown. Shakespeare illuminates a parable that has two opposite sides in the character of Macbeth. First, he is brave in military affairs. On the other hand, he represents cowardice before and after the murder of the king. A mature psychologist would say that in the character of Macbeth the attributes of hallucinations are observed. This episode describes the vision of Macbeth about a dagger that stimulates the general to commit a crime:
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! (Shakespeare 2:1 23)
It is essential fact of his disorder. Macbeth is under the effect of hallucination which does not give him a chance to think rationally. This character lives in the world of illusions. In some aspects, his wife, Lady Macbeth, helps him live in it. The ambitious and cold-hearted nature of her represents the same reflection on her husband. This point is strong in Macbeth’s monologue and his reasoning of the pre-crime situation. Thus, the character is trying to persuade him in the righteousness of his attitudes:
A dagger of the mind, a false creation
Proceeding from the heart-oppressed brain?
I see this yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw (Shakespeare 2:1 23).
This episode assumes the projection of unreal things into the implementation of real actions. Then was a crime of the king. This crime in most points is the result of Macbeth’s fears and his inability to resist insanity. He understands rationality, as something odd. This inadequate estimation of surroundings depicts him, as an ill man from the psychological point of view. Fears are at the core of Macbeth’s psychic disorder. They seem to correlate his personality in terms of the words about witches and visions on the whole.
After the crime, Macbeth behaves, as a real coward. He designates his action as something wrong. He does not fully realize it, because of the personal assurance on the positive side of the crime. More emphasis on this action is made by his wife. She seems to provoke Macbeth in committing a crime. The effects are the own words by Macbeth:
My strange and self-abuse
Is the initial fear, that wants hard use:
We are yet but young in deed (Shakespeare 3:4 40).
This confession is the weighty fact of initial disorders in Macbeth. His mental health was at risk from the very beginning of the play. He is a precedent for the danger. King Duncan was a victim of Macbeth’s mental play. Insomnia and visions continue pursuing him. The reality of this character is colored with dark shades. There are many scenes in which the protagonist is shown with darkness or thunder in the background. It symbolizes the darkness of Macbeth’s mind and his intentions as well. The chain of actions could be predicted in time. The safety of the king was possible, but due to the high position of general Macbeth, the situation played box with King Duncan.
Living with fear about the witch’s prophecy Macbeth fails to follow a more rational way. General gives way to outer manipulations. He is apt to do what his wife says. This correlates his action to negative consequences. In other words, Macbeth is weak, because he has a weak personal opinion. The mental health of Lady Macbeth also leaves much to be desired. Her psyche is different before and after the crime. Her attitude toward this outrageous action can be described solely using one word: “done.”
Using those thoughts, which should indeed have died
With them, they think on? Things without remedy
Should be without regard: what’s done is done (Shakespeare 3:2 34).
This assertion serves as the remedy, indeed, for Macbeth. It is fair to admit that living in such conditions was a challenge for general. Along with his suspicions about his fate, he was assured in his actions by Lady Macbeth. It is a pattern of his devotion to his wife who always encourages him throughout the play. However, Lady Macbeth feels great guilt after the crime. She hesitates in her thoughts about the righteous before time intentions when inflicting the harm. The murder which she and her husband committed is the point from which both are getting don to decline. Moreover, the insanity of Macbeth also leads him to the additional feeling of guilt. He is nervous because of insomnia. He is inappeasable due to the problem in himself. The chains with which he entangled himself are in Macbeth’s mind and probability of following the way of sinful deeds. Again, Lady Macbeth is quite strong in her desire to move the hand to hand with the husband. To say more the crime was done by her but with the hands of her husband:
My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white (Shakespeare 2:1 25).
Looking at General Macbeth, one may suppose that this man has dissociation of the personality. It could grow from his irresponsibility for actions. He thought that things could go with unlawful actions. Furthermore, he believed that features of mind and soul can be controlled. Alas, Macbeth failed due to primordially irrational actions. During the whole play, the gestures and mimic of the character reveal his real nature. His ideas seem to torture him. It is seen on repeated occasions. Dreams and visions of him are seen in many episodes. This reaction to the things which surround him is a manifestation of his openness to outer influences. Lady Macbeth serves this purpose. However, every bad intention leads to bad outcomes. In terms of Lady Macbeth, it was death. Macbeth commented on this loss, as nothing in this world, because such end is evident within people:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.-
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow (Shakespeare 5:4 57).
This is the reaction of a senseless man. He was influenced to behave the wrong way by his wife. This reflected how he comments on the death of Lady Macbeth. In this point, Macbeth is a dangerous social element. He has nothing to do with reason. He is a victim of his own biases. Moreover, this flow in his character is unchangeable. Macbeth is the result of his ambitious character and dedication to his wife. All in all, these factors had reasoned in him some changes in his psyche.
To sum up, the character of Macbeth in the same-name play by William Shakespeare can be analyzed through a psychological approach. This man has some inner disorders in his psyche. Before the crime, he feels that this action would only help his plans for becoming the king of Scotland. He suffers from hallucinations of a dagger. This feature provokes him to do the crime. However, after the crime, the situation with his psychic health deepens. In addition to some kind of insanity (hallucinations), he suffers from insomnia. Macbeth also feels the guilt of his actions and cannot but live with this.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth: a tragedy, in five acts. (Duncombe’s acting edition of the British theatre). London: J. Duncombe, 1848.