Manipulation and Regret in Macbeth
Regret can be a powerful motivator. A guilty person full of regrets often lives in a world of fear. As George Sewell said, “Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt.” Sewell’s quote shows that fear is a direct consequence of guilt. In Shakespeare’s classic play Macbeth, the main character lives in this world of fear because of his intense regret of the murders he has committed. There is a popular modern saying, “behind every great man there’s a great woman.” Lady Macbeth motivates her husband to do things he will eventually regret. Throughout the play she plants ideas in his head and causes him to commit murder in order to acquire the throne. The beginning of Act 3, Scene 2 provides a glimpse into their relationship. Lady Macbeth is a cunning and manipulative character, and Macbeth follows her blindly because he loves her. As the play progresses, Macbeth resorts to murdering more people as a consequence from murdering Duncan. His character changes dynamically from innocent at the play’s beginning to guilty from multiple murders. This passage from Macbeth relies on literary devices to explicate the dynamic between Macbeth and his wife. In Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy in lines six through nine, the alliteration of “destroy,” “destruction,” “dwell,” and “doubtful” represents the dark tactics that she uses to manipulate her husband. When Macbeth arrives in line 10, her diction changes from heavy consonants to lighter, condescending tones. Soft phrases like “how now” and “sorriest fancies” show that her shift in tone when he arrives indicates her ability to get Macbeth to do what she wants. Macbeth makes an allusion, another literary device, when he states: “We have scorched the snake, not killed it” (3.2.10). Macbeth compares Duncan to a snake in order to convey the message that Duncan remains a threat to the throne. Macbeth uses a metaphor to describe Duncan’s death: “Duncan is in his grave. / After life’s fitful fever he...
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