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Free Macbeth Essays: The Value of Sleep

The Value of Sleep in Macbeth

I’m sure you know what it is like to not have a good night sleep for a day or two, or maybe even a whole week, but imagine not being able to sleep through the night for an entire year. Macbeth grows to know this feeling all too well in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Every time that Macbeth is involved in murdering his so-called friends, his waking hours grow longer and longer. He almost goes crazy the night that he kills King Duncan, and he can never get over this because he immediately has to kill again in order to protect himself Each of these killings causes Macbeth to sleep less and eventually leads to his insanity.

It all starts when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth agree that it will be the best for both of their futures if Macbeth sneaks into the king’s chamber and slaughters the king in cold blood. Here, he gets just a small glimpse of what’s to come. He begins to already hear voices in his head. They say to him, “Sleep no more: Macbeth does murder sleep,” and “the innocent sleep . . . Macbeth shall sleep no more” (II.ii.38-46).And he does not really sleep much more after this night. Macbeth kills innocence when he kills the sleeping Duncan. There is no possible way that Duncan can defend himself. He is completely helpless and innocent, but Macbeth kills him anyhow.

Finally, there is no choice for Macbeth but to kill his best friend Banquo in order to destroy any thoughts that Macbeth is actually Duncan’s murderer, Macbeth has lost countless amount of sleep due to his conscience. He can not even think straight. For him to even consider killing his friend is demented enough, but to follow through with his plans is completely insane. How can you kill the man you have told everything to, and who you have spent most of your fun times with. Macbeth shows even greater weakness when he claims to see Banquo’s ghost at the dinner table the evening of the murder. He acts so insanely that his wife has to stand up and say, “Sit worthy friends. My lord is often thus, And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat” (III.iv.53-54). Macbeth’s own wife has to stand up and lie for him because Macbeth has gotten so little sleep that he actually thinks this ghost is real, even though he knows that Banquo is dead.

Capital Punishment Must be Abolished

“Crimes against children are the most heinous crime. That, for me, would be a reason for capital punishment…” — Clint Eastwood

“I could not become an American citizen. I would not like to become a citizen of a country that has capital punishment.” — Werner Herzog

In most of the industrialized world, capital punishment is not used to punish criminals. However, it is still used in the United States. The capital punishment debate in the United States has raged for almost four hundred years. Supporters of capital punishment often cite its roles as deterrent and retribution as reasons for their support of the death penalty. Opponents of capital punishment cite its arbitrariness and finality as reasons for their opposition against the death penalty. Because capital punishment can lead to an unequal application of justice, sometimes to the point of executing innocent persons, no amount of argument from its supporters should prevent it from being abolished.

The Arguments of Those Who Favor Capital Punishment

Supporters of capital punishment begin by arguing that capital punishment deters murder. This view has been held for thousands of years. In his book The Penalty of Death, Thorsten Sellin notes what the famous 18th century English law commentator William Blackstone wrote in his Commentaries on the Laws of England:

As to the end or final cause of punishment, this is not by way of atonement…but as a prevention against future offenses of the same kind. This is effected three ways, either by the amendment of the offender…or by deterring others…or lastly by depriving the party injuring of the power to do future mischief. (Sellin 77)

This sentiment was expressed by Socrates (in Gorgias) and by his antagonist Demosthenes some 2,000 years before Blackstone (Sellin 3-5).

But what evidence is there to support the idea that the death penalty deters potential murderers better than any other form of punishment? Until Professor Isaac Ehrlich released his study on this subject, only anecdotal evidence existed, and that had been provided by people in the law enforcement, judicial, and corrections fields. By 1953, the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment in England noted:

…capital punishment has obviously failed as a deterrent when a murder is committed. We can number its failures. But we cannot number its successes. No one can ever know how many people have refrained from murder because of the fear of being hanged.

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