13 terms

ACT 5 SCENE 1

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PLAY

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ACT 5 SCENE 1
A ROOM IN DUNSINANE CASTLE

Enter a Doctor of physic, and a WAITING GENTLEWOMAN.
The setting and atmosphere in this scene are gloomy, while secrets and conspiracy lurk beneath the surface, and Lady Macbeth descends into Madness.
ACT 5 SCENE 1

DOCTOR: I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walked?

GENTLEWOMAN: Since his majesty went into the field, I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed yet all this while in a most fast asleep.
The conversation between the Doctor and the gentlewoman allows us to understand Lady Macbeth's movements, actions and thoughts.

The gentlewoman's description of how Lady Macbeth has sleepwalked in the past acts as a stage direction for the actress playing Lady Macbeth. Her agitated reading of a letter is of course a visual reminder of her reading of the fateful letter in Act I, Scene 5; where her 'nightmare' and arguable start of madness began.
Ironically, Macbeth shall sleep no more yet Lady Macbeth cannot awake yet eerily sleepwalks; she is guilty and has turned away from facing the day in which she would remember such things.
Act 5 Scene 1

DOCTOR: A great perturbation in nature....in this slumbery agitation, besides her walking and other actual performances, what at any time have you heard her say?

GENTLEWOMAN: That, sir, which I will not report after her.

DOCTOR: You may to me, and 'tis most meet you should.

GENTLEWOMAN: Neither to you, nor to anyone, having no witness to confirm my speech.
Doctor recognises this as unnatural - it is the after effect of trusting the witches for L.M
Doctor provoking questions is good for audience- what they wish to know - yet tension is built as the gentlewoman shan't say without someone present -> gothic conspiracy (scared she'll get in the shit) and gothic secrecy
builds anticipation as to what she may or may not have revealed in sleep talking...
ACT 5 SCENE 1

Enter Lady Macbeth with a taper {candle}

GENTLEWOMAN: Lo you, here she comes. This is her very guise {custom} and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her, stand close.

DOCTOR: How came by her that light?

GENTLEWOMAN: Why, it stood by her. She has light by her continually, 'tis her command.
The candle which accompanies Lady Macbeth in her sleep-walking act is functional as a metaphor in different ways. If we take her sleep-walking speech to be a kind of self-confession of the dark deed, the candle may be seen as an image of burning repentance that re-humanizes her character in the final moment of her life. Alternatively, it may also be seen as an infernal image that underscores her predicament of sinfulness.
The candle may well be the actual reason of her death. According to some critics, it might well be that she died due to the fire caused by an accidental fall of the candle.
The candle also cuts across a pathetic image for Lady Macbeth, being her only companion, highlighting her loneliness and Macbeth's neglect towards her. The candle is also a very ironic object. Looking back at her introductory scene, it was Lady Macbeth who had always wanted absolute darkness while now she is reduced to a paranoid obsession with the light of the candle which she does not keep apart even for a moment.
She is lamenting the murders of Lady Macduff and Banquo and she appears to see blood on her hands claiming that nothing will ever wash it off.
Shakespeare creates a black atmosphere through the words used and the fact that this scene is played in complete darkness with the exception of one candle, which Lady Macbeth keeps close by her.
ACT 5 SCENE 1

DOCTOR: You see her eyes are open.

GENTLEWOMAN: Ay, but their sense are shut.
creates a scary undead/zombie image, frighting for audience.
act 5 scene 1

DOCTOR: Look how she rubs her hands.

GENTLEWOMAN: It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus washing her hands; i have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.

LADY MACBETH: Yet here's a spot.

DOCTOR: Hark, she speaks; I will set down what comes from her to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
Lady Macbeth is seen to rub her hands in a washing action that recalls her line "A little water clears us of this deed" in Act II, Scene 2. If these words are not enough to arouse the Doctor's suspicions, those that follow must suggest to him not only that she is suffering but also the reason for that suffering.
It is ultimately her guilt that makes her mad.

Sub-consiously, Lady Macbeth is trying to "rub" the "blood" (or the guilt of murder) off of here hands. This shows how, unlike at the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is feeling this emotion.

Though Shakespeare obviously didn't know about modern technology, blood actually leaves a residue on every surface it touches.
LADY MACBETH: 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 none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?
Earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth possessed a stronger resolve and sense of purpose than her husband and was the driving force behind their plot to kill Duncan.
When Macbeth believed his hand was irreversibly bloodstained earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth had told him: "A little water clears us of this deed" Now, however, she too hallucinates blood. Her recall falters: her memory obsessively returns to the murder, but she doesn't seem to know whether it's happened yet or not. She is completely undone by guilt and descends into madness.
It may be a reflection of her mental and emotional state that she is not speaking in verse; this is one of the few moments in the play when a major character—save for the witches, who speak in four-foot couplets—strays from iambic pentameter. In fact critic A. C. Bradley has said she is "denied the dignity of verse"—uniquely among major Shakespearean characters making their final appearance.
Compare "Out, damned spot! out" with Macbeth's later "Out, out, brief candle!" in Act 5, Scene 5. Guilt can stain a whole life, but life itself is fleeting.
Obsessive hand-washing is a classic compulsive behavior and, when it manifests over a sustained period, is an indicator of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
ACT 5 SCENE 1

LADY MACBETH: The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?
What, will these hands ne'er be clean? No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this starting.
his is alluding to Macbeth Act 4 Scene 2 where Macbeth has murderers come into Macduff's castle and kill Lady Macduff and her children. Through this action was not directly instigated by Lady Macbeth, she still feels immense guilt for husband's actions.
ACT 5 SCENE 1

GENTLEWOMAN: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that. Heaven knows what she has known.
low/turning point -> its all come out
ACT 5 scene 1

LADY MACBETH: Here's the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!
This is a parallel to where in Macbeth Act 2 Scene 2 Macbeth says "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?"
This shows how the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have switched.
According to famous philosopher Sigmund Freud
"Shakespeare often splits a character up into two personages, which, taken separately, are not completely understandable and do not become so until they are brought together once more into a unity. This might be so with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth"
ACT 5 SCENE 1

DOCTOR: This disease is beyond my practise: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died
Holily in their beds.
Suggests she has something terribly wrong with her; gothic illness
nonetheless, the doctor is suggesting there is perhaps hope for Lady Macbeth.
ACT 5 SCENE 1

LADY MACBETH
Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave.

DOCTOR: Even so?

LADY MACBETH: To bed, to bed! there's knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's
Done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!
She can't get over all the murders that her and Macbeth have committed. This line echoes from when Macbeth was trying to wash his hands of his sins. After he killed Duncan, he asks if the waters from Neptune can wash away his sins.

Doctor takes back what he previously said, breaks tension of her revealing all and reveals how shocking it must be for the ordinary people just discovering this.

Lady Macbeth's line "What's done cannot be undone" not only reverses her earlier argument to her husband "what's done is done" (Act III, Scene 2); it also recalls the words of the general confession from the Prayer Book: "We have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us." The Doctor agrees: In his opinion, Lady Macbeth needs a "divine," — a priest — more than a doctor, reminding the audience of Macbeth's earliest doubts when he argues with himself before the murder of Duncan, "If it were done when 'tis done . . . we'd jump the life to come" (I:7,1-6).
ACT 5 SCENE 1

DOCTOR: Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets...God, God forgive us all! Look after her; remove from her the means of all annoyance,
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night:My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight. I think, but dare not speak.
Terrible rumours are circulating = foul whisperings OR he has detected the sense of the witches who spark off the unnatural deeds which breed unnatural troubles, which inevitably leaves Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's mind infected with secrets.
Nonetheless, the Doctor prays for Lady Macbeth as she recognises she wishes to be saved- however, he is still scared and shocked by what he has seen and wishes God to cure it anyway.