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The development of guilt in Macbeth

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Analyse how the writer develops a significant idea or theme in Macbeth Guilt is a state of mind in which an individual or group of individuals experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done. In extreme cases of guilt, the feeling will not go away easily and if it is ignored it may cause people to develop mental illnesses such as depression. In William Shakespeare?s play Macbeth, the idea that guilt cannot be ignored is explored through the main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare explores this idea through the use of symbolism, character development and religious references throughout the play as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth do their best to ignore their guilty conscience after planning and committing the murder of the Scottish king, King Duncan, and the subsequent murders that followed this in order to keep Macbeth on the throne. ...read more.


Shakespeare also used blood as a symbol to show Lady Macbeth?s guilt as in act 5 scene 1 she said ?Here?s the smell of blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand? and she eventually killed herself after being unable to get rid of an imaginary spot of blood on her hand, ?Out, damned spot! Out i say!? At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth was presented to the audience as cruel and ambitious and appeared to be without remorse or regret at the murder that she had initiated. Her character development throughout the play was used by Shakespeare to reinforce the idea that guilt cannot be ignored as her character went from feeling no guilt about Duncan?s murder, to feeling so guilty that she ended up killing herself. When Macbeth expressed his immediate regret at killing Duncan, ?this is a sorry sight? (Act 2 scene 2), Lady Macbeth replied by telling ...read more.


Through reference to religion, Shakespeare was also able to develop the idea that you cannot ignore guilt. The belief in God was extremely important during Shakespearian times and it was believed that a king was God?s representative on earth. When Macbeth considered murdering Duncan in Act 1, he felt guilty at even thinking about committing this sin ?as his host who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-toung?d against the deep damnation of his taking-off. ?and he thought that if he murdered Duncan then there would be outrage in heaven. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth realized he had violated what God wanted, and he felt so guilty about this that he was unable to say amen ?I could not say ?Amen? when they did say ?God bless us.?? Throughout Macbeth, Shakespeare explored the theme that guilt cannot be ignored without resulting in devastating consequences. ...read more.

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