Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Macbeth, sleep, and death

Death, John Donne tells us, is but a more pleasant form of sleep.
http://www.bartleby.com/105/72.html

Death and sleep in Macbeth, however, are much more sinister.

Sleep in Shakespeare is often -- I might even say generally -- considered pleasant. "O gentle sleep / Nature's soft nurse" 2H4.3.1, "golden sleep" 1H4.2.3, "Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast!" R&J.2.2, etc.

But Sleep in Macbeth?

Sleep is not kind to Duncan: it is the invitation to his murderers:

"When Duncan is asleep--
Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him"

And as the time approaches:

"Now o'er the one halfworld
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings,"

Note the juxtaposition of death and sleep, neither peaceful as in Donne but terrible in the celebration of witchcraft. The world seems to know what horrors are about to happen and to recoil from them even before they are executed.

It is in the peace of sleep that Duncan is murdered. And the result is not just the murder of Duncan, but of sleep itself:

M: Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve 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,--
LM: What do you mean?
M: Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:
'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'

What can be worse than murdering sleep, to live but never to sleep again? What greater horror can we imagine than never to be able to go peacefully to bed and to sleep, never to knit up the ravelled sleeve of care, never to have our hurt minds balmed.

He not only murders sleep for himself, but for Lady Macbeth, who must sleepwalk in horror rather than enjoy restful slumber.

Macbeth and Lady M don't get to sleep peacefully -- but Duncan does.

"But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further."

So, who is really better off -- Duncan sleeping the peaceful sleep of death, or the Macbeths living in perpetual affliction of terrible dreams nightly, their very sleep murdered> s?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Scribe
Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

There's the Rub

Nice work, Christopher.

Hamlet 3.1

Ham. To be, or not to be: that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer 64
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die; to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end 68
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ’Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die; to sleep;—
To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there ’s the rub; 7 72
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffl’d off this mortal coil, 8
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life. 76
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d 9 love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns 80
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus 10 make
With a bare bodkin? 11 Who would fardels 12 bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life, 84
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn 13
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have 88
Than fly to others that we know not of?

(The source for Donne's poem, by the way, is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.)
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: There's the Rub

[ Edited ]
I wonder if Shakespeare was an insomniac because he wrote quite a lot about sleep and the lack of it. He vividly described many clinical disorders involving sleep - somnambulism, sleep apnea, insomnia, and nightmares. Here are some more quotes:-

http://shakespeare.about.com/cs/criticismmisc/a/sleep.htm

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-24-200701:24 PM

Scribe
Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: There's the Rub

I love this one:

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest (4.1.168-170)



Choisya wrote:
I wonder if Shakespeare was an insomniac because he wrote quite a lot about sleep and the lack of it. He vividly described many clinical disorders involving sleep - somnambulism, sleep apnea, insomnia, and nightmares. Here are some more quotes:-

http://shakespeare.about.com/cs/criticismmisc/a/sleep.htm

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-24-200701:24 PM




"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Top Kudoed Authors
Users Online
Currently online: 35 members 292 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: