Murray, J. Middleton. "The Time Has Been."
Shakespeare. London: The Society of Authors, 1936. 325-36. Rptd. in Twentieth Century Interpretations of Macbeth. Ed. Terence Hawkes. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977. 22-29.
Thesis: This extract from Murray's book is an impressionistic account of how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth realize the horror of their crime, and what that realization does to them. Before they kill King Duncan, they believe that the only thing to fear is getting caught, and that if they can lay the blame on the grooms, everything will soon be over and done with. In the event, they discover that murder is more than a matter of technique, and that its consequences are never done with.

The first indication of Lady Macbeth's awareness of the horror of murder is her statement that she would have killed King Duncan herself if he had not looked like her father. In the end she is driven mad by her inability to wash away the blood of the "old man."

As for Macbeth, he finds that in murdering King Duncan he has also murdered sleep and so killed the normal experience of time, in which everything has a beginning and an end. In a commentary on Macbeth's reaction to the news of his wife's death, Murray writes:

"Hereafter," I think, is purposely vague. It does not mean "later"; but in a different mode of time from that in which Macbeth is imprisoned now. "Hereafter" -- in the not-Now: there would have been time for such a word as "the Queen is dead." But the time in which he is caught is to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow -- one infinite sameness, in which yesterdays have only lighted fools the way to dusty death. Life in this time is meaningless -- a tale told by an idiot -- and death also.  (29)
Evaluation: Murray is a stylish and often eloquent writer, but it took me three tries to sort out his ideas, and I still don't understand what he means by "the contrast between character and act which is the necessary outcome of Shakespeare's method in tragedy" (26).

Bottom Line: A good stiff drink of insight.