Lady Macbeth's Guilt

1436 Words 6 Pages
In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a prophecy foretells that Macbeth will one day be king. The prediction foreshadows that their human greed and ambition will lead them to despair. Adam and Eve, too, sought after what they did not have, and were disappointed by the result. Blinded by visions of glory, the Macbeths choose to capture the throne for themselves. Macbeth’s mind gradually deteriorates after King Duncan’s murder, and after Macbeth becomes king, he finds himself killing to defend his new, uncertain situation. Lady Macbeth, however, conceals her inner turmoil, and for some time appears unaffected until her distress that Macbeth continues to kill causes her subconscious to become wracked with guilt. Through Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s …show more content…
Macbeth, after violently attacking Duncan and two guards, claims that “[he] could not say ‘Amen’/ when they said ‘God bless us’” (II. ii. 39-40), illustrating how Macbeth no longer feels worthy of God, and proving the unholiness of crime. In response, his wife merely requests that he “consider it not so deeply” (II. ii. 41). She takes the “man’s role” by justifying their “deed” and seizing control of the situation, but the brutality with which she acts is genderless. Since Macbeth freezes in the shock and guilt of what he has done, his wife rushes to plant the daggers on the guards to deflect blame and thrusts insults on him to belittle his masculinity: “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers./The sleeping and the dead/Are but as pictures. ‘Tis the eye of childhood/ That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal/ For it must seem their guilt” (II. ii. 68- 71). While Macbeth immediately appears confused and horrified, Lady Macbeth compartmentalizes, and ensures that the guards are framed for the murder. Her ambition to carry out homicide highlights their gender differences, as Lady Macbeth confidently takes care of business, seemingly without compassion, unlike her husband. He worries if he can be forgiven, to which she replies that he should wash his hands clean of the blood, and with it, wash away his sin. Macbeth asks in response, “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. (II. ii. 77-81). Lady Macbeth internalizes any remorse she feels, while Macbeth’s emotional turmoil shatters his sanity. They wanted to rule because they thought that becoming king and queen would make their lives easier and happier, but all it did was make their situation more

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