Macbeth: Guilt and Mental Deterioration

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The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Macbeth, more commonly referred to as simply Macbeth, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare that was published around 1605. The play, which is set in eleventh-century Scotland, focuses around Macbeth, a courageous warrior who murders King Duncan so that he may acquire the throne. As time progresses, he begins to spiral into insanity; he becomes a murderous savage who enlists fear in his acquaintances and drives them to rebel and murder him for the safety of Scotland. His loosely-held sanity dwindles down to the point where he cannot think before he performs anything and makes severely rash decisions. His mental deterioration is in part due to his own guilt, his interpretations …show more content…

Macbeth concludes that Banquo is a major threat to him very early on in act three; he expresses that he is too smart to be trusted and cannot let his children inherit the throne and must be killed. He convinces his hired murderers that Banquo is the source of their troubles to motivate them to succeed. He conveys that he cannot kill him because they have common friends; deceit is shown as one of Macbeth’s newly-discovered strengths. When Lady Macbeth confronts Macbeth for being so glum after all that he has accomplished, he expresses that, “We have scorched the snake, not killed it./ She’ll close and be herself whilst our poor malice/ Remains in danger of her former tooth” (3.2.15-17). He recognizes that because he has taken his fate into his own hands, there will be consequences which will be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. When Macbeth learns that Banquo’s brother, Fleance, has escaped the hold of his assailants, he expresses arising fear because a problem has arrived. At the banquet, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost sitting in his seat and exclaims, to the confusion of his guests, that the table is full; his outrageous vision signifies that he is beginning to lose control of his mind. The moment passes but he is revisited by Banquo’s ghost while trying to lead a toast. Macbeth begins to yell obscenities at him and the guests are dismissed from the table. Once …show more content…

When he is informed that his wife has passed, his reply merely begins with, “She should have died hereafter./ There would have been a time for such a word” ( He continues, expressing how he believes that life is meaningless and only leads to death. When a messenger comes in to inform him of the movement of Birnam Wood, he begins to yell at him, like a young child. Macbeth soon after slays the son of Siward, laughing because he knows he cannot be vanquished by anyone. Macbeth fights Macduff, boasting about how he is invincible, until it is revealed that Macduff was not born of woman, but Macbeth refuses to believe it because he has already been told enough half-truths. Macbeth promises to fight until the end and is slain by Macduff. Macbeth enters the play as a respected individual but leaves as a psychotic tyrant. Someone who was once a sane, knowledgeable man transitions into a cruel, desperate lunatic. At first overcome with guilt of killing a dear friend, he rapidly fell into the trap of false security. Due to the never-ending want of man, he went to many extremes to uphold his goal of becoming king. His own misinterpretations of half-truths told by a group of disbelieving witches led him to an unruly death. He led himself into insanity by putting too much blind faith into unreliable

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how macbeth's mental deterioration is due to his own guilt, his interpretations of the predictions made by the witches, and his mistrust of personal fate.
  • Analyzes how macbeth is introduced as a valiant and loyal soldier to his country. he is promoted to thane of cawdor and king of scotland.
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