Theatre going was very popular in Elizabethan London, but it was incredibly different than going to the theatre today. It was like a cross between going to watch a football match and going to the theatre. The playhouses were open air and the lack of artificial lighting meant that plays had to be performed in daylight, normally in the afternoon.Act 5 scene 1 of ‘Macbeth’, also known as ‘the sleep walking scene’ is a very famous part of the play; so famous that even the people who have not seen or read the play know of it.
It is probably classified as famous because of its dramatic affect. This scene has the power to change ones opinion of Lady Macbeth, as before this scene I, personally, disapproved of Lady Macbeth; but after viewing this scene my opinion was vividly changed. It had gone from disliking Lady Macbeth and hoping that she suffered to sympathising for her and wishing that she escaped the clutches of justice.
The things that are said by Lady Macbeth while she is sleepwalking give us a clearer picture of how the guilt is affecting Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.The scene keeps audiences interested because of the vivid change between the scenes. In the previous scene we were at the Kings palace in England, which is regarded as a safe place because the King himself was considered a martyr, to the castle of Macbeth which is the completely opposite as it is the home of a murderer.This scene is frequently said to be ‘the beginning of the end’ for both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and rightfully so.
As from after this scene matters worsen for the Macbeths from this point until the end.A tense atmosphere is created in this scene by the close observing eyes of the doctor and the gentile woman. It was the gentile woman who called the services of the doctor because she previously witnessed Lady Macbeth sleepwalking. The intense atmosphere is affective because of the invasion of privacyThe language that Lady Macbeth uses in this scene is short and simple; all of what is said by her is in soliloquies. Some of what is said by Lady Macbeth is rhymed in a kind of childish manner, for example:’The Thane of Fife had a wife where is she now?’There are many aspects to the soliloquies that help convince the audience that Lady Macbeth has broken down, including the short sentences and the rhyming words. Some of her sentences are disjointed and she often repeats herself, this adds to her look of insanity; as well as these aspects Lady Macbeth often cuts from one topic to another, the snippets of different sentences add to this affect. The irregular topic between the disjointed sentences gives the impression that Lady Macbeth has lost her mind.The actress playing Lady Macbeth is put under great demand in this scene.
She has to understand the lines and work out how beat to deliver them. She must do so in a way that allows the audience to understand what is happening. She must put forward the emotion that Shakespeare originally intended in order for the audience to feel her fear and anxiety.In a production, starring Dame Judy Dench as Lady Macbeth, she puts her entire acting skills into play.
She interprets the line ‘Hell is murky’ very well. Before she says this line she peers down and gasps as If a hole as just opened in the floor and she can see hell and, according to her line, she thinks its murky. This is an extremely good way of interpreting the line because it adds effectiveness.In this scene Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking so she must be completely unaware of everybody and seem as though she is in a trance. A good way of showing this is in the same production that starred Dame Judy Dench. In this she wonders straight through the doctor and gentile woman without noticing them.In this scene a vast majority of the themes that occur through out the play are mentioned in one way or another.
One of the most obvious themes is murder; without this there would be no plot. In this scene Lady Macbeth mentions three different murders of which she knows about. The murder of King Duncan, ‘who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him’ They killed him in order for Macbeth to become King.She also mentions the murders of Banquo and his wife the thane of fife ‘The Thane of Fife had a wife, where is she now’ and ‘I tell you yet again, Banquos buried; he cannot come out of he’s grave’Isolation is also a theme in the play that is mentioned in this scene. It is especially related to Lady Macbeth. Throughout the play she is continually being isolated from Macbeth, more and more so as the play progresses, and this final scene is a climax to her isolation as for after this scene Lady Macbeth dies. Being isolated from her husband also means that she has no one to confide in as she can not talk about the gruesome events to anyone else; it is because of this that she may have broken down.
Another theme also mentioned is that of fear. One could say that it was fear that motivated some of the actions done by Macbeth or Lady Macbeth such as the murder of Banquo. But it is not only fearing the present that affects the duo but also fear of what the past might bring for them in the future. It is the fear of the consequences, which could arise in result of the murders, that perhaps drove the couple insane along with other issues. They also feared the eternal damnation.
The idea of this crops up frequently in the play, but in this scene it only appears once. This is when Lady Macbeth says ‘Hell is murky’ as if just seen it and expecting to go there.Throughout the play evil is often referred to as darkness. In this scene darkness is spread around Lady Macbeth because it is nighttime. But darkness appears all the time for Lady Macbeth, metaphorically. We know this because Lady Macbeth demands to have a light (candle) by her at all times, or so the gentile woman says. She probably demands this because she believes it’s the only way to rid of the darkness (evil) around her.During this scene Lady Macbeth is constantly rubbing her hands as if trying to wash something off them.
This could be linked to the theme of blood, which tends to represent guilt. Lady Macbeth says in this scene ‘all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand’ meaning that nothing will remove the blood or in other terms, nothing will rid of her torment and guilt. In act 2 scene 2 Macbeth says a similar sentence. ‘Will all the great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?’ Both of them seem to be suffering the same pain. She also says ‘ Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?’ This doesn’t mean that he had a lot of blood, but it means that she did not expect to have that much guilt from his murder.Sleep is often used metaphorically in this play as a place of solitude, a place of privacy where you cannot be disturbed. It is thought to be a reliever that one cannot go without. The fact that Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking she is no longer in her private place.
She lets out secrets because her solitude has been taken away from her.In my opinion I believe that this scene is rightfully famous as it has a tendency to hang about ones mind. Its dramatic affect has the power to change ones opinion.
This scene is a very powerful scene, and is therefore rightfully famous, because it creates a clearer picture of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; we also understand what goes on in the mind of Lady Macbeth. It also explains some of the actions that she does, perhaps why she brakes down and later on kills herself; it helps one to relate to her problems making one sympathise with her. The play shows how ambition can lead to evil doings.