27 February 2013
In the play Macbeth, there are many different themes and motifs. The play is about a man named Macbeth who is a respected military man who lives in Scotland. One day, Macbeth meets three witches who give him the prophecy that he’ll become King. This prophecy leads to Macbeth’s downfall, and the start of his guilt. In Macbeth, Shakespeare explores the theme of guilt in order to teach his audience the overall lesson that guilt often leads to destruction. The guilt overcame their mental processing, and obstructed them from achieving their goals.
One way that guilt becomes obvious throughout the play is through the motif of hands. For example, directly after Macbeth had murdered Duncan, he says,
What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
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. (2.2.76)
Macbeth’s hands have just performed a treacherous action in order to eliminate Duncan and take his place as king. His guilt is so great that he believes his hands can stain the ocean red and that all of the water in Neptune’s ocean couldn’t clean him now. Unlike Macbeth, Lady Macbeth seems to feel that the murder of Duncan can easily be forgotten. She admits that she is just as guilty when she says,
My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
A little water clears us of this deed.
How easy is it, then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended. (2.2.82)
Lady Macbeth admits that her hands are just as red, meaning she is just as stained by the deeds as her husband. However, she believes that the guilt is easily washed away and urges her husband to simply use water to cleanse himself. Soon Lady Macbeth finds that her advice is not as easy to follow as she...