How Guilt Leads To Macbeth's Downfall English Essay

739 words - 3 pages

Everyone, at one point or another, has experienced guilt. For some it appears as a simple nagging sentiment that keeps them from a peaceful sleep or a productive day’s work. For others it manifests itself in their day to day lives, becoming a limitless supplier of a guilty conscience, forcing itself into their psyche. In the tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare offers a view into the transformative power of guilt. Guilt is established as a significant theme in this literature through Lady Macbeth’s deterioration, various motifs and symbols such as blood and sleep, and Macbeth’s own descent into madness. Shakespeare successfully expresses the power and versatility of guilt throughout Macbeth by portraying it in its diverse forms, actions, and consequences.
In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is depicted as a strong and fearless woman, willing to “unsex” herself and lose her femininity in order for her husband to prosper as king. Even so, the guilt of the murders which she assisted in, consume her and lead to her tragic death. Lady Macbeth’s guilt is truly shown towards the end of the play after the murders of Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family. She illustrates her true feelings to the audience in her famous sleepwalking scene. “The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean?...You mar all with this starting.” These lines show that she feels guilty about the deaths of Macduff’s kin, that she has realized Macbeth, with his nervous behaviour, has gone too far. Lady Macbeth understands that the blood of Macduff’s family is also on her own hands due to her pushing for Macbeth to become king. While in this moment, Lady Macbeth is revealing emotions she did not exhibit before, she says to herself “I tell you again, Banquo is buried. He cannot come out of his grave.” This shows that the guilty thoughts span far back before her emotional climax, signifying that remorseful thoughts must have been crossing her mind multiple times before...keeping her from sleep and peace. With Lady Macbeth’s guilty conscience tearing her apart, never letting her forget her iniquitous actions, she succumbs to her...

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