Impact of Guilt on MacBeth

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Impact of Guilt on MacBeth

What is guilt and what major impact does it have in the play Macbeth by William

Shakespeare? Guilt is defined as the fact or state of having offended someone or something. Guilt may cause a person to have trouble sleeping and difficulty in relationships with others. The effects of guilt tie into Macbeth with the theme of night

and darkness. Guilt causes the main characters’ consciences to overcome them mentally

and physically causing their downfalls. In the tragedy Macbeth by William Shakespeare,

the recurring theme of night and darkness is used to symbolize guilt and conscience such

as when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth want the darkness to conceal their evil deeds and in

the end, when Lady Macbeth is afraid of the darkness and nighttime.

In Act I, after King Duncan names Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth

is already plotting to kill Duncan. He asks the darkness to come and hide his evil deeds

so no one would see the terrible thing he was about to do. He says “Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires: The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see” (Act I, scene iv, ll.50-53). This is demonstrated again after the murder of Banquo when Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth

“Come, seeling night, scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, and with thy bloody and

invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale”(Act III,

scene ii, ll.46-50). This quote from the play also shows the importance of night and

darkness to Macbeth’s plot of killing Banquo. He is asking the night to come and hide

and cover up the things he has done to Banquo. These examples from Macbeth show that

throughout the play, Macbeth wants the darkness to conceal his evil deeds.

Lady Macbeth also asks the night to come upon her and hide her by the darkest

smoke of hell. She doesn’t want to be seen as she and Macbeth commit their terrible

deeds. She wants the night to hide her thoughts and actions about killing Duncan while

she is reading Macbeth’s letter. She says “Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, not heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, to cry ‘Hold, hold’!” (Act I, scene v, ll.50-54). She is already planning the murder of Duncan long before her husband’s return.
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