Emotions are a part of every one; the way one reacts to them is what makes them different. Guilt and shame are some of the few that are felt in the normal man if committed murder. In the play Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth Lady Macbeth is a character that has been an accomplice in murder, and the actions affect her overtime. One is able to see Lady Macbeth’s actions affect her through contrasting characters by her reactions to her emotions compared to the common man.
Macbeth’s foils Lady Macbeth by his response to the murder compared to hers. Directly after the murder of King Duncan, in Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth meets with his wife in a cellar, covered with the king’s blood throughout his body and hands. While washing his hands in the sink 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” (2.2.58-63). By Macbeth’s response with fear you feel confirmation that the murder has affected the couple and made them feel guilty for their actions. Macbeth’s response foils Lady Macbeth by his example of human response to murder. Lady Macbeth responds with, “a little water clears us of this deed: how easy is it then!” (2.2.63). Macbeth shows that there is no way that he can remove his guilt from his soul in terms of blood on his hands. Macbeth emphasizes it being impossible by say “Neptune’s ocean”, referring to the Norse-god of the sea; in translation, he feels there is no power on earth that can remove his guilt. Lady Macbeth also puts her feelings into objects but instead of saying there no way of removing it, she says quite the opposite in saying “a little water clears us of this deed”. The water represents the force that is needed to remove the guilt from their mind. Her response translates to meaning only a small effort is needed to completely remove the guilt.