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Sleep Deprivation

Essay by 24  •  April 20, 2011  •  1,372 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,144 Views

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According to the National Sleep Foundation, sixty percent of Americans have sleep deprivation, an outcome of today’s advanced technology. Improvements of the technology and realization of the imaginations offer people more choices to expend their limited amount of time: for example, cell phones, which are among the greatest inventions in the twenty-first century, let people listen to music, take pictures, and even watch TV shows. Because of those innumerable entertainment options, they leave their own health as the last concern, meaning that sleep is in their least priority, without knowing how much a lack of sleep influences their life. The play Macbeth, a tragedy about the rise and fall of the protagonist, Macbeth, reveals the significance of sleep. William Shakespeare frequently uses a vivid imagery to enable readers and audiences to understand the plot and illustrate the meanings of the characters’ actions and conversations. Each image found in the play serves a different purpose, yet most focus on the attributes of the characters. For instance, clothing reflects the status of the characters while light and darkness emphasize good and evil. In contrast, sleep concentrates on patterns in their lives. Sleep is a necessity of life for soothing and cleansing exhausted souls and consciences; thus, a lack of sleep reveals abnormalities. Throughout the play, the absence of sleep disrupts the normal life cycle of the characters, especially Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, by tormenting their souls, evoking their guilt, and taking away their freedom.

After Macbeth and Lady Macbeth murder Duncan, they confront their inability to sleep and loss of innocence that incessantly pester them. As Macbeth regrets and fears his own potential for evil deeds, he defines sleep: “the innocent sleep, / … great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast” (II. ii. 37-41). In Macbeth’s mind, sleep replenishes both body and soul and frees him momentarily from work and worries. Moreover, he believes it is the most nourishing part of the day and as unavoidable as death. This quote illustrates an unusual literary device of Shakespeare: asyndeton, which accelerates the passage and makes it more memorable. The personification of sleep sensibly relates its role in a person’s life: for example, “sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care” (II. ii. 38). Unfortunately, craving for the ideal sleep later develops into nothing but an unapproachable hope. Distressed and confused, Macbeth tells his wife, “But let the frame of things disjoint …/ Ere we will … sleep/ In the affliction of these terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead …/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy” (III. ii. 18-24). Because of his own conscience, Macbeth concludes that death is better than life with permanent agony lamenting his sin. The quote contains oxymoron, calling Macbeth’s torturous life a “restless ecstasy.” “Ecstasy” usually means some kind of pleasure, the opposite of not only “restless,” meaning uneasiness, but also the torturous life. Beside him, Lady Macbeth goes through similar panic and does not sleep but sleepwalks. The gentlewoman tells the doctor that she has seen her “rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, … and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep” (V. i. 3-7). The description confirms that Lady Macbeth cannot get away from her exhaustion and concerns even when she sleeps. The usage of those details serves to illustrate her behaviors while she sleepwalks. In short, Macbeth’s speeches and Lady Macbeth’s uncommon behavior reveal the outcomes of sleep deprivation: physical exhaustion and mental confusion that prevent the couple from living a normal life. Furthermore, the absence of sleep deteriorates their weakened bodies by frequently stirring up their guilty consciences to carry on their journey to the eternal inferno.

In the cyclic progression that disrupts these characters’ lives, the guilty conscience further generates an inability to sleep that brings the conviction and eventually catalyzes physical and psychological collapse. After Macbeth kills Duncan and comes out of the room, he comments, “Still it cried … вЂ?Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor/ Shall sleep no more вЂ¦Ð²Ð‚™Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (II. ii. 42-44). His conscience mentally torments him by reminding him the voice whether it simply is an auditory hallucination or not. In the quote, sleep symbolizes innocence because whoever falls asleep becomes vulnerable and oblivious of surroundings. Because of what sleep represents, Macbeth believes that he has killed his own sleep while murdering a person in repose. The reciting of the guilt also appears in Lady Macbeth’s uncommon behavior: sleepwalking. While she is sleepwalking in her mental breakdown, she subconsciously talks about the murders, nearly describing the crimes: “Wash your hands … Look not so pale … Banquo’s buried” (V. i. 42-43) and “There’s knocking at the

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