Macbeth: The Effects of Guilt Essay

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Macbeth, a tragedy written by William Shakespeare and edited by Maynard Mack and Robert Boynton, displays the many ways in which guilt manifests itself and the effects it has on its victims. Throughout the play, characters including Lady Macbeth are deeply affected by guilt in ways they had never expected. Macbeth takes its audience on a journey through the process in which guilty gradually eats away at Lady Macbeth and forces her to do what she thinks is best. Though Lady Macbeth may have initially seemed unaffected by the murders she had been involved in, her desires eventually faded and were replaced with an invincible feeling of guilt which eventually took her life. An overpowering emotion, guilt once lay…show more content…
Lady Macbeth says, “These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad” (II.ii.41-42), suggesting that the guilty party should dust off their shoulders and ignore the matter at hand, the crime they had committed, because if they dwelled on their crimes too much, they would begin to feel guilt, the unconquerable emotion. Despite the fact that Lady Macbeth’s words seem to simply mean “feel no remorse”, there is hidden foreshadowing. Lady Macbeth uses the word “will” to describe the attack of anger and guilt towards one’s action. The word “will” seems to mean that Lady Macbeth is not saying guilt may or may not plague her, but instead she is suggesting that it very well will attack her and she will be overwhelmed by this feeling and soon enraged by it. Lady Macbeth may become so enraged that she takes action and goes to reckless measures to cure herself of the indomitable sentiment of guilt. Lady Macbeth, a once strong and persuasive woman, used the elimination of guilt from those who surround her as a way of coping with her own guilt and attempting to stop it before it reached her. From time to time, characters such as Macbeth, who were involved in many of the murders that occurred throughout the play, began to feel repentant over their actions but were quickly persuaded that guilt was not what they were feeling
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