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Guilt in Macbeth Essay


Guilt is a powerful feeling of remorse that takes control of your life, you always feel it, both mentally and physically. You will feel this remorse until you have admitted to it and have accepted what you have done and are willing to partake in your punishment. This is portrayed throughout the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, where the main character commits various devastating murders. He must hide all of them in his quest for Kingship and to remain on the throne. As we can see through Shakespeares writing, power cannot produce happiness nor satisfaction.

In Macbeths pursuit of power his wife, Lady Macbeth pushes him into killing King Duncan. Right before Macbeth kills him he has already begun his guilt ridden kingship. This is illustrated when he sees A dagger of the mind which is the creation of the heat-oppressed brain (2.1.50-51). This illustrates his already guilty conscious attempt at stopping him from committing such a deviant attack. As he commits this horrendous crime he hears a cry Sleep no more!/ Macbeth does murder sleep (2.2.47-48). This alludes to his down coming due to his guilty behavior, it suggests that he wont be able to sleep anymore and that this will destroy him. Upon returning to his chamber, Macbeth then experiences yet another insight to his future, for when he looks at his hands he sees that the are red with blood of the crime,

Will all great Neptunes ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather

The multitudinous seas incarnadine,

Making the green on red.


Of course the water will rinse away the blood from his hands but he is really speaking of his blood covered conscious. Whether or not he is blamed with this murder he is going to have to live with knowing he has taking a mans life.

After being chosen for kingship Macbeths deviant plans arent done with yet, for he now must commit more murders and hide even more truths to remain in power. One strong example of the continuation of this murderous kingship is when Macbeth realizes that what the witches have prophesized that Banquo is going to be the father of kings. It is suggested that there is some complications preventing either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth from having children. Now Macbeth has fear of losing his power so he must act by sending out to murder Banquo and his sons.

By this time he has already begun to lose his guilt induced conscious as if killing had just become second nature. Thus is the case when he murders all of Macduffs family, creating one of his largest flaws thus far. It is not illustrated on how the murders were done, rather Macduffs reaction is shown which creates a hatred towards him.

Also, Macbeths dirty conscious causes him to look past a key clue in prevention of his overthrowing. With his second run in with the witches, it is revealed that the forests will come to his kingdom and that he will be killed by a man not born of women. His ignorance caused him to look right past the obvious and allow his slaying to be conducted.

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