Macbeth: The Effects Of Guilt Essay

1218 words - 5 pages

Macbeth, a tragedy written by William Shakespeare and edited by Maynard Mack and Robert Boynton, displays the many ways in which guilt manifests itself and the effects it has on its victims. Throughout the play, characters including Lady Macbeth are deeply affected by guilt in ways they had never expected. Macbeth takes its audience on a journey through the process in which guilty gradually eats away at Lady Macbeth and forces her to do what she thinks is best. Though Lady Macbeth may have initially seemed unaffected by the murders she had been involved in, her desires eventually faded and were replaced with an invincible feeling of guilt which eventually took her life.
An overpowering emotion, guilt once lay dormant in Lady Macbeth, but this dormancy foreshadows the effects it would have on her later in the play. At one point, Macbeth states, “…We but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor” (I.vii.7-10); though Macbeth was the one to speak these words, it brings the idea of foreshadowing to the audience. After all, Lady Macbeth was the inventor of these “bloody instructions” which led Macbeth to believe that murder was normal and that it was what it took for him to fulfill the witches’ prophecy. It was only fair that Lady Macbeth would be plagued by her own ideas, she was the one who told Macbeth to do it, and though she did not perform the deeds herself, she essentially forced her own husband to commit an evil act. Of course, it is only natural for characters such as Macbeth, who were actually involved in murder itself, to feel guilt and remorse for what they had done; However, to be the inventor of these ideas, the mastermind, the wizard behind the curtains, it is almost requisite that you feel guilt. Soon after Macbeth is involved in the murder of King Duncan, he begins to feel at fault for this hideous crime, but is soon redirected to believe that what he had done was acceptable. Lady Macbeth says, “These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad” (II.ii.41-42), suggesting that the guilty party should dust off their shoulders and ignore the matter at hand, the crime they had committed, because if they dwelled on their crimes too much, they would begin to feel guilt, the unconquerable emotion. Despite the fact that Lady Macbeth’s words seem to simply mean “feel no remorse”, there is hidden foreshadowing. Lady Macbeth uses the word “will” to describe the attack of anger and guilt towards one’s action. The word “will” seems to mean that Lady Macbeth is not saying guilt may or may not plague her, but instead she is suggesting that it very well will attack her and she will be overwhelmed by this feeling and soon enraged by it. Lady Macbeth may become so enraged that she takes action and goes to reckless measures to cure herself of the indomitable sentiment of guilt.
Lady Macbeth, a once strong and persuasive woman, used the elimination...

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