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Guilt Is A Potent Emotion In Shakespeare's Mac Beth

772 words - 3 pages

​Guilt is a very potent emotion that an individual always feels in relation to others and has its genesis in the wrong done by some person to other. The two prominent works of literature that is Macbeth and The Kite Runner, though contrived centuries apart, revolve around an unremitting feeling of guilt felt by the central characters that are Macbeth and Amir, and the ordeal they had to go through owing to the psychological and practical consequences of that guilt.

​In the Shakespearian tragedy Macbeth, though Macbeth manages to murder the Scottish king Duncan to actualize the prophecy of the three witches, yet the guilt emanating from such nefarious acts and intentions continues to foreshadow Macbeth’s life throughout the plot. The very moment Macbeth approaches lady Macbeth with hands dipped in the blood of Duncan, his deeps seated guilt oozes forth as he says, “Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more;/Macbeth does murder sleep (2.2.45-46)”. Thereby, from this moment onwards, Macbeth is shown to be strongly stung by an unrelenting and continually nagging sense of guilt that makes him engage in strange and suspicion generating acts and manners. Yet, Macbeth time and again interprets his guilt as a sign of cowardice and moves on to spill more blood to consolidate his hold over an ill gotten throne. The torment and anguish inherent in these lines that are imbued with the seeds of guilt eventually metamorphose into a full blown sense of guilt and shame that continues to torment his soul.

​As the play progresses, the consequences of Macbeth’s deep seated guilt assume such gargantuan and vivid proportions that they actually get personified as the apparition of Banquo that materializes before Macbeth, as he sits amidst the most exalted of Scotland. The guilty conscience of Macbeth rails against this apparition, “I am in blood/Stepp’d in so far that should I wade no more/Returning were as tedious as go o’er (3.4.162-164).” Macbeth utters these words imbued with a chronic and innate sense of guilt, when the ghost of Banquo brings to surface the guilt lying dormant, yet seething in Macbeth’s conscience. Thereby, the direct consequence of this guilt is that Macbeth, who otherwise happened to be so determined and strong, eventually ends up...

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