The Ultimate Downfall Of Macbeth Due To Guilt

1028 words - 4 pages

In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth’s ultimate downfall is due to the guilt he feels over everything he has done. The motif of supernatural forces, specifically the hallucinations and lack of sleep that Macbeth experiences, project the force of the guilt that eventually causes Macbeth’s destruction. Shakespeare uses the motif of supernatural forces to express how the force of the guilt Macbeth feels eventually leads to his final demolition in the play Macbeth.
The recurring supernatural forces that cause Macbeth to have hallucinations show how his guilt is slowly killing him. For example, before Macbeth kills Duncan, he visualizes a floating dagger that is not really there because he feels immense guilt about what he is about to do. When Macbeth says, “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art thou a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (Shakespeare 51 and 53) he is discussing seeing the dagger but he is confused whether or not the dagger is actually there. The confusion shows that this hallucination is a force of a supernatural power and fabricated by Macbeth’s subconscious due to the tremendous guilt he feels about killing Duncan. Another example of the supernatural forces causing Macbeth to hallucinate is soon after Macbeth commits the murder, he tries to wash his hands clean from the blood, however no matter how much he scrubs his hands he still feels like his hands are covered in Duncan’s blood. When Macbeth exclaims, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?” (Shakespeare 59) he is describing that he is envisioning blood on his hands that is not really there and Macbeth thinks the blood will never go away. This quote shows how the disgrace Macbeth feels about his actions causes him to hallucinate. A final example of how the motif of supernatural forces causes Macbeth to hallucinate due to the shame he feels about committing murder is when he sees the ghost of Banquo at his own dinner party. The supernatural forces cause Macbeth to hallucinate a figure of Banquo in the form of a ghost because Macbeth feels guilt for hiring men to murder his best friend. The quote, “Prithee, see there. Behold, look!” (Shakespeare 103) shows that Macbeth sincerely believes he is seeing Banquo’s ghost, although nobody else sees him. Shakespeare uses the motif of supernatural forces that cause Macbeth to hallucinate to prove that Macbeth feels extensive guilt.
The supernatural forces that cause Macbeth to have sleepless nights also portray the tremendous guilt Macbeth feels. For example, immediately after Macbeth murders Duncan he says, “Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house. “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.”” (Shakespeare 57) This quote shows that Macbeth believes that since he has murdered the king, the...

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