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Theme of guilt in Macbeth
The feeling of guilt in a person’s consciousness always arises very quickly and unpredictably, this psychological state is quite difficult for all people. The play “Macbeth” very aptly conveys the feeling of guilt through the souls of the heroes’ souls and their conscious actions. Human conscience and inner feelings and conflicts play the most important role in the play.
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Examples of guilt in Macbeth
Macbeth and his wife dare to commit regicide, that is, the murder of a royal person against King David. The committed murder is only the beginning of the story, then we can see the inner world of the two heroes and the development of their sense of guilt. We find Lady Macbeth in a state where she is counting the chimes, imagining the fateful night Duncan was killed, to the point where she has sleepwalking and all kinds of crazy thoughts. In addition, the feelings of Macbeth himself become radically stronger immediately after the murder, he is constantly haunted by paranoid thoughts that he will be caught, and these thoughts of course do not give him peace. We realize this is true when he says, “What’s happening to me, that I’m frightened of every noise” in Act 2, looking at his hands, which are covered in blood. He wants to get rid of intrusive thoughts so badly that he even imagines tearing his eyes out. Thus, we can argue that Duncan’s blood is the main symbol of Macbeth’s guilt, which has been used as a metaphor for his belief that there is no water even from the ocean that is enough to cleanse his hands.
In Act 5, Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, during which she appears to be trying to wash her hands of imaginary blood, quoting, out damned spot! Which demonstrates the fact that her guilt manifests itself mostly during sleepwalking. In this scene, a woman tries her best to clean herself of Duncan’s blood. Lady Macbeth believes that they have the most important thing – power and that they have influence and can survive this murder, but the quote “who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him” means that the couple never thought that after the murder they will feel guilt and psychological trauma so much.
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It is clear that Shakespeare portrays the two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, as people with bad intentions who, as a result of their actions, experienced the full force of guilt and could not cope with it. In the conversations and internal monologues of the characters, we clearly observe that guilt is the main thing in their minds. The play is structured in such a way that all situations and the very development of events are associated with feelings of guilt and remorse. For example, Banquo’s ghost is a vivid demonstration of the characters’ guilt after killing their former ally. In the end, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost, which causes him to panic and later he is reflecting about his murders and whether they were as easy as he first thought. As a result, we see how difficult it was for him to survive these murders when he says, “the time has been that when brains were out, the man would die and that’s the end”. Thus, even when you get rid of your enemy, your conscience will leave his image in your head forever.
- Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.