Madness and Sanity
Macbeth has become king after he kills Duncan, but he still feels anxious with others that threaten his new position. Thus, he hires two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance. However, Fleance has escaped. Throughout act 3, scene 4, Macbeth is haunted and tormented by Banquo’s ghost, which only he can see and very nearly reveals all to the lords. Compare with Macbeth’s embarrassed, Lady Macbeth is saner because unlike Macbeth, she cannot see the ghost, and she appears surefooted and stronger than Macbeth. “This is the very painting of your fear:/ This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,/ Led you to Duncan” (William Shakespeare Macbeth 3.4.75-77). Shakespeare uses metaphor to describe Macbeth “hallucination” that his fear is like a painting, and dagger is just “air-drawn”; everything is not real. Also, she thinks Macbeth’s words are just like a woman’s story that heard from her grandmother, it is ridiculous and very sissy. “O, these flaws and starts,/ Impostors to true fear, would well become/ A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,/ Authorised by her grandam. Shame itself” (Shakespeare 3.4.77-80). The contrast between here and the one in which Duncan’s body was discovered is striking—whereas Macbeth was once cold-blooded and surefooted, he now allows his anxieties and visions to get the best of him. “That when the brains were out, the man would die,/ And there an end: but now, they rise again,/ With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,/ And push us from our stools: this is more strange/ Than such a murder is” (Shakespeare 3.4.95-99). This is the first time that Macbeth appears to “lose” his power so obviously in front of so many people, and shows his anxiety and madness.