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Motifs in Macbeth

  • Date Submitted: 03/15/2010 07:01 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.5 
  • Words: 318
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William Shakespeare utilizes motifs in his tragic play, Macbeth, to empathize important themes. These recurring themes include the stars hide your fires and the sleep no more motifs, among others.
The stars hide your fires motif built on the theme of hiding ones’ true desires and intentions from goodness and their conscience. Macbeth says, “Stars, hide your fires, / Let not light see my black and deep desires;” (I, 4, 50-51) while considering murdering the royal family to become king. His ambitions are so evil that he does not even want to look at them himself. Likewise, Lady Macbeth calls upon malevolent spirits. “Come, thick night, / And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, / That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, / Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, / To cry ‘Hold, hold!’” (I, 5, 50-54).
The sleep no more motif signifies the loss of peace, loss of sanity, and loss of the nourishment of the body, plus the addition of stress. Feeling guilty about his murder of Duncan, Macbeth says, “Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep,’ the innocent sleep, / Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, / The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, / Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast.   (II, 2, 32-37). Lady Macbeth also supported the idea of sleep being a vital part of life. Saying “You lack the season of all natures, sleep” (III, 4, 140), she believed that Macbeth’s sight of the ghost of Banquo was due to his lack of sleep.
Shakespeare’s employment of motifs in Macbeth helped convey the hiding of evil desires from goodness in the stars hide your fires motif and helped illustrate Macbeth’s guilt and the importance of sleep in the sleep no more motif.


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