A Theme of Guilt in Shakespeare’s Tragedy Macbeth

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

In life, the choices you make can impact you and the people around you, in both positive and negative ways. People have different ways of dealing with the decisions they make and some are better than others and not allowing it to take control on their mental and physical state. Guilt is a common feeling when it comes to looking back at a poor decision that was taken place in this play. Guilt is portrayed in various occasions in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth. In this tragedy Shakespeare is telling the audience that guilt and and remorse can greatly affect one’s life both physically and mentally.

In “Macbeth”, the main character Macbeth is forced with a different problem that will later on come back to haunt him. He decides to kill King Duncan, (the current king of Scotland) in order to become King himself as a result a prophecy that states he will become the next King. Before he makes this serious decision, Macbeth already feels scared and uneasy about committing this murder. In act 1 Macbeth states “If good why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image of death unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs against the use of nature”. In this soliloquy Macbeth foreshadows his declining mental state and the feeling of guilt that will come as a result of the murder of King Duncan this is an example early on in the tragedy “Macbeth” that guilt and remorse already is taking over Macbeth’s life and his mental state. As the tragedy goes on , Macbeth begins to feel hypervigilant about about the actions that he decided to take in order to become King and fulfill the witches prophecy. “ Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”. In this scene Macbeth tries to get rid of his guilt he is feeling. This is such a powerful quote because he says, in more simple words, “Not even Neptune, God of the ocean, can wash away this blood/guilt from my hands” This means this is stained/ marked with him forever. This is another example of Shakespeare trying to telling the audience how much guilt can affect one’s life. In another scene of this tragedy the audience continues to see guilt taking over Macbeth life. In Macbeth begins to hear voices saying “sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”. Shakespeare uses this technique to allow the audience to see how quick Macbeth’s mental state is declining and or is going towards a negative direction. The guilt is starting to take over him to the point that he hears voices that aren’t actually there. The audience also sees how Macbeth is hypervigilant and is always aware and always feeling if something is about to happen. The choices Macbeth made are slowly taking over his life and Shakespeare continues to show this throughout the play/ novel.

Throughout “Macbeth” the audience sees how much one’s decision can take control on their life. As a result of a poor decision, Macbeth begins to see his life slowly degrading right in front of him. His feeling of guilt sticks with him and follows him through his life. William Shakespeare does an excellent job including many examples of Macbeth’s falling metal state and physical state. This allows the audience to understand and able to make a connect to their personal lives. It allows them to picture the magnitude that their decisions can make in their lives.

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