Macbeth Mental Illness Paper
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both show signs of what would today be diagnosed as symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as “long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation”. There are three major symptoms of this disorder: not knowing the difference between reality and fantasy, jumbled conversations, and withdrawal physically and emotionally. The most common and most well known symptom of schizophrenics is when they can’t make out what is real and what isn’t.
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Confused, Macbeth asks, “Where?” (Act 3, Scene 4, line 48). He really thought that Banquo’s ghost was sitting in that seat. When Macbeth went to visit the witches, he had three more hallucinations. The first was an armed head that warned him to “Beware of MacDuff” (Act 4, Scene 1, line 71). The second was a bloody child that said “Macbeth!” ( Act 4, scene 1, line 77) three times and the third was a crowned child with a tree in his hand and said, “ Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” (Act 4, scene 1, lines 92-94). Lady Macbeth also displays many signs of schizophrenia in Macbeth. Because of all the murdering that she has been involved in, at night time, Lady Macbeth has hallucinations that her hands are covered in blood and that she cannot remove the smell of the blood. “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” (Act 5, Scene 1, line 43). Lady Macbeth also rambled on in an incoherent way, which is common in schizophrenics. She says “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One: Two: why, then ‘tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie my lord, fie! A soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when non can call our pow’r to accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” (Act 5, Scene 1, lines 31-35). Apparitions, eternally bloody hands, and ghosts all sound like a scary dream.