Macbeths State of Mind After the Murder of Duncan

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In Act II, scene II of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, As a result of the dreadful crime of killing his own king, in II,ii Macbeth expresses his feelings of remorse. As Macbeth leaves the castle hall, Lady Macbeth imagines that her husband is killing the Duncan as she speaks. After hearing what she thinks is Macbeth crying out, she worries that the others have woken up. She says that she would have killed him herself but he looks too much like her father. Macbeth returns to his wife, his hands covered in blood, and says that the deed is done. Shaken, Macbeth remarks that he heard the others wake up and say their prayers before going back to sleep. He then thought he heard a voice cry out “sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep” (II,ii 35-36).

At first Lady Macbeth tries to steady her husband, but she becomes enraged when she notices that Macbeth has forgotten to leave the daggers with the sleeping guards to frame them for Duncan’s murder. He refuses to go back into the room, so Lady Macbeth takes the daggers to the guards herself. As she leaves, Macbeth hears a mysterious knocking. The great sound scares him, and he asks desperately, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood - Clean from my hand?” (II,ii 58–59). As Lady Macbeth reenters the hall, the knocking comes again. She takes him back to the bedchamber, where they can wash off the blood. “A little water clears us of this deed,” she tells him. “How easy it is then!” (II,ii 65–66).
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