Theme Of Guilt In Macbeth

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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he chronicled the story of Macbeth’s rise to power and all he encountered during that journey. One theme that is present throughout the entirety of the play is guilt. As the story progressed, it can be seen that guilt affects each character differently depending on their role in the play. However, every person deals with the guilt in their own way. Everyone is influenced by a feeling of regret at some point in their lives, and the way they deal with it will affect them in the long run. It can be seen taking a drastic toll, particularly on the characters of Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Ultimately, the presence of guilt in someone is determined by how easily they let it affect them.
Towards the beginning of the play, Macbeth was told by three witches of his future as the Thane of Cawdor and as King of Scotland. Together, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth devised an evil plan to brutally murder King Duncan. In doing this, Macbeth was one step closer to his prophecy of being King coming true. Macbeth expressed guilt and second thoughts before he even did the deed, but after the murder is done is when his guilt really started to show. Immediately after, Macbeth heard voices saying “Macbeth shall sleep no more” (II.ii.22-43). The guilt would keep him awake forever and would continually eat away at him. He was so disgusted with himself that he couldn’t even put the daggers back at the scene of the crime (II.ii.51-53). Lady Macbeth, guilt free at the time, stepped in and did this for him. Guilt often causes people to lie, which is why Macbeth quickly reacted and killed the guards. Lady Macbeth attempted to cover for him and fainted as a distraction (II.iii.106). He couldn’t keep his thoughts straight and it ended ...

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...t caused her to take her own life (V.V.17-19). She reached a point where even coming clean and admitting to what she had been a part of, wasn’t going to be enough to clear her conscience.
Whether lying about a homework assignment, talking bad about a friend, or killing someone, guilt will almost always be present in a situation. As Macbeth exhibited, people can do things they know are wrong and remain guilt free. Was he really completely guilt free though, even at the end? Physical and psychological symptoms of guilt grow as the guilt itself does. Lady Macbeth, although originally came off as unaffected, eventually was crushed by the weight she was carrying on her shoulders. Almost all of the main characters in Macbeth by Shakespeare fall victims to guilt at some point. The difference is how they chose to deal with it and their willingness to take responsibility.
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