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To What Extent Does The Impact Of Guilt On The Characters Similar In Macbeth And An Inspector Calls?

1503 words - 7 pages

Macbeth and An Inspector Calls, both plays written by William Shakespeare and J.B Priestley. The pair embeds the aspect of guilt upon their characters. ‘Macbeth’, a play written in 1605, set in 11th century Scotland. Contrastingly ‘An Inspector Calls,’ written in 1945, set in the North Midlands during the post-war period. Despite the variation in setting, the impact of guilt on the characters were similarly approached.

Situated at the the start of the play, Shakespeare exposes Lady Macbeth’s masculinity through her dialogue. Lady Macbeth has just received the news that Macbeth has been named Thane of Cawdor, during in which she said, “Come you spirits...Unsex me here.” When Lady Macbeth uses the words, ‘unsex me’ she is exhibiting that she has no passion in acting like a normal woman of that medieval time. Alternatively she aspires to resemble a masculine personality. She assumes if she takes on the role of a man, she can convey the audacity to commit regicide. Relating to the theme of guilt, Lady Macbeth shows no real concern about killing and regicide, which demonstrates that she either has very little guilt or none at all. The audience of 1605 will presume that she is trying to go against nature and God. In 1605 most of the audience must have had very strong beliefs and conduct life in a way Christianity teaches them. When they encounter someone, like the character of Lady Macbeth they will assume she is going against God’s will. This generates negative vibes from the audience and leads to the audience disliking Lady Macbeth’s character.

Similarly Priestley illustrates the femininity of Sheila via her dialogue. Towards the middle of the play, Sheila is explaining her story to the Inspector, when Priestley writes “Inspector: So you were jealous of her? Sheila: Yes, I suppose so.” Focusing in on the word “Jealous” we can quite easily infer that she is a stereotypical feminine, who evoke envy over other girls, most of the time for no serious reason. Linking to guilt, she shows heaps of guilt. This is because she does not lie to the Inspector and abides to her mistakes. This is a contrast between the two characters because Lady Macbeth does not unveil her guilt, unlike Sheila who has given in to her guilty conscience. Linking to audience of 1945, they must have acknowledged that Sheila is very feminine and ‘girlish’. During the war, men went away and fought, leaving behind the Women. Women almost ran the country. They did jobs that men usually do and also jobs that men don't do: like making weaponry and utilities that are essential for men at war. Therefore the audience will have assumed that Women have grown more strong-willed and valiant. they might find it quite prominent to stumble upon a girl like Sheila.

We then see Shakespeare inject another key quality of Lady Macbeth through her dialogue, amongst the start of the play. Shakespeare displays Lady Macbeth’s desirous character by writing,...

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