One of Shakespeare’s favored tragedies, Macbeth, displays the progress of guilt and how it affects some of the characters throughout the play. Two characters who become deeply consumed with guilt are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Although they both deal with guilt in different ways, the audience sees how profoundly it affects them through not only words but actions. When reading the play, the audience is able to recognize Macbeth’s guilt early on, but it 's not until later that the effects of Lady Macbeth’s guilt become evident. The guilt that the two feel is easily sought out as sincere and damaging.
The guilt that Macbeth feels is real from the start. It can be evaluated throughout the play with how he acts and some things he says. When Macbeth had killed Duncan, the guilt is obvious as soon after committing the bad deed. Macbeth’s guilt is evident that when a servant had said “God bless us,” Macbeth couldn’t “say “Amen”” (2.2.28). He isn 't able to bring himself to say it due to him knowing that he had just killed a man for his own selfish gain. Macbeth knows that what he did was a horrible deed and now he acknowledges his consequences which include guilt. Following Duncan’s death, Macbeth is never himself again, which could be because of the guilt. Macbeth believes that he is “in blood stepped in so far, should [he] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er” (3.4.142-144). Macbeth has this idea that he has already gone this far so what is the point of going back. This could be seen as guilt consuming him and making him feel that he can’t do anything to fix himself. At the end of the play, Macbeth has become burdened with guilt. Although Macbeth has been changing how he acts throughout the whole play, it isn’t until Act...
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...wards the end of the play, the doctor and the gentlewoman get to encounter Lady Macbeth sleepwalking. They witness her rubbing her hands together, saying “out, damned spot! Out, I say” (5.1.25). Lady Macbeth has finally recognized that although she is able to wash away the blood on her hands, she isn’t able to wash it away from her conscience. She used to scorn Macbeth for having one, but now knows how it feels since it has finally caught up with her. The guilt she encounters comes so quickly that she isn’t able to deal with it much longer. A little later on in this act, the audience finds out that “the queen is dead” (5.5.17). In the end, Lady Macbeth isn’t able to run from the guilt leading her to commit suicide. From the guilt that Lady Macbeth encounters, the audience can see that although Lady Macbeth tried to ignore her conscience, it finally caught up with her.
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