Guilt in Macbeth Essay Sample

In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, blood imagery illustrates the theme of how guilt changes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's souls. Throughout the play, changes go through Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. They are driven by ambition to commit evil actions, like murder. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth is strong, but then she starts to go mad and kills herself. Macbeth doesn't act like a man in the beginning, but then after the murder he starts to go cold and doesn't care about anything but power. With all the murders committed there ends up being a lot of blood, and with blood comes the guilt that starts to corrupt the characters.
The guilt of killing King Duncan makes Macbeth imagine things. He thinks he is hearing the guards speaking to him. Macbeth tries to clean all the blood, of King Duncan, off his hands, but he still sees it. He starts saying, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hands? No; this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green on red."(Macbeth 2.2.60) The meaning of this quote is that he is so guilty that all the blood will never be washed off his hands, that the seas will turn red with all the blood on his hands. He has to live with the guilt of killing someone. With this being Macbeth's first murder he is guilty about it, but later on he doesn't care about it anymore. This is the first action that starts his path to becoming bad.
After the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth is now the ruler of the throne. When Macbeth got the prophecy about him becoming Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, then King, he didn't think he would have to kill many people or any at all. He eventually realized he would have to kill to get the power that was prophesied. He was even willing to kill his best friend and son to accomplish his power, at that moment he decides that his friend and son should be killed. After his friend is killed Macbeth starts to see his ghost when he has guests with him. "Blood hath been shed ere now, i' th' olden time, / Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal; / Ay, and since too, murders have been performed / Too terrible for the ear…" (3.4.80) Macbeth says this because before his time when someone was murdered they wouldn't rise back up from the dead and haunt them. Macbeth thinks that he is the only person that is getting haunted by someone he murdered.
Macbeth ends up killing a lot of people just for power. He was willing to kill his best friend to get power that he didn't want taken from him, but before Macbeth killed his friend, he was contemplating whether he should or not. " I am in blood / stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / returning were as tedious as go o'er. / Strange things I have in head that will to hand, / which must be acted ere they may be scanned."(3.4.135-140) This quote is referring to Macbeth killing so many people that he can't go back to being his old self, that he has gone too far with the killing sprees. It would be hard going back to being good as it is to kill people. He has schemes in his head that he wants to put into action before he changes his mind.
Lady Macbeth starts off as more of a manly person than Macbeth. She is the one that is encouraging Macbeth to kill King Duncan and take the throne, but later on she regrets all that she did. Lady Macbeth starts sleepwalking and talking in her sleep about the murders. She wants all the guilt to go away that it drives her so mad she kills herself. In the play when she sleepwalks she says "Out damned spot! Out, One: two: / why, then ‘tis time to do't. Hell murky. Fie, my lord, / fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear / who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to / account?- Yet who would have thought the old man / to have so much blood in him."(5.1.40) Lady Macbeth is trying to wash her guilt away, but that isn't happening because she is still seeing all the blood on her hands. This guilt is what makes her go so mad. It's haunting her and she can't get away from it.
Another thing Lady Macbeth says that shows guilt is, "The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?- What, will these hands ne'er be clean?"(5.1.45) Lady Macbeth is admitting to these crimes without really knowing it, yet she is saying she is guilty for doing it. She tried time after time to try and wash the "blood" off her hands. She wants to be cleaned of all the sins she has made. Lady Macbeth is driven so mad that all the guilt she had to hold in eventually gets to be too much for her that she ends her life.
In Macbeth there is a lot of blood imagery, which consists of a lot of guilt. There is guilt in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth over the murders committed. Even though it doesn't show Macbeth with a lot of guilt in the end of the play it is still there. The guilt is there in Lady Macbeth when she kills herself. In Macbeth there is a lot of guilt shown in the characters.
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