Macbeth's Guilt

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The Role of Guilt in Macbeth  


Guilt plays a strong role in motivating Macbeth, and causes Lady Macbeth to be driven over the edge of sanity - to her death. Throughout the story, there are many different types of guilty feelings that play a role in Macbeth’s fatal decisions and bring Lady Macbeth to commit suicide. Although there are many instances that show the power guilt has played on the main characters, there are three examples that show this the best. One is, just after the murder of the great King, Duncan. Guilt overcomes Macbeth where he can no longer think straight. A second example is soon after that, where all the guilt Macbeth feels at first, changes into hate after he decides that Banquo must be killed as well. The last example is just about at the end of the play, when we see Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, and then later committing suicide; this all because of the burden of her guilt. All of these examples build the proof that in this play, guilt plays a very large role in the characters’ lives.

It all began really in Act II, Scene II after the murder of Duncan, when Macbeth returns to his room to join his wife. As any person would be, Macbeth is very shaken by his wrong act. Killing a man, not to mention a beloved king is a sin and Macbeth knows it very well! He truly believes he has murdered all innocence, and only worse things will follow. Throughout the scene there are several quotes that show this; " Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more," and " Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red." This shows the amount of guilt he felt. He describes this by saying that if he tried to wash his hands in the river, it would turn into the colour of the blood itself. Lady Macbeth attempts to make him stronger, " A little water clears us of this deed: How easy it is then!" But...
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