The quotes and explanations used throughout this essay, built up proof that guilt played a big role as the motivation for Macbeth, and guilty feelings were brought out through the characters’ actions and responses, until the very fatal end.
All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." She realises that nothing could ever get rid of the smell of the blood and the guilt caused by all the murders committed by Macbeth.
Wilson comments regarding the guilt of the protagonist: It is a subtler thing which constitutes the chief fascination that the play exercises upon us - this fear Macbeth feels, a fear not fully defined, for him or for us, a terrible anxiety that is a sense of guilt without becoming (recognizably, at least) a sense of sin....
One of most striking images in the play equates guilt with the idea of blood-stained hands. Macbeth refers to his own hands as , which would be covered in blood from disembowelling victims of execution. When Lady Macbeth urges him to wash the blood off, he realises the impossibility of washing away his guilt. His crime is so wicked that the blood will .
In the murder scene, we again see Macbeth tormented by guilt. Shakespeare has the murder happen offstage so that he can focus on Macbeth's tormented mental state. Macbeth is terrified by his own sense of sin, as he could not say 'Amen' when he heard someone praying. He imagines his guilty conscience will never let him sleep peacefully again: . References to sleeplessness recur later in the play, as when Lady Macbeth says, . Even when he does sleep he will be tormented by his guilt in the .
Such thoughts of his guilt and remorse are expressed through his discussions with Lady Macbeth, his unconscious reactions to Banquo’s ghost and the "tomorrow and tomorrow" speech.
Macbeth has given them a reasonable amount of examples to justify their predictions of his bloody doings, yet his inner monologue is available only to the reader.
Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth changes from an evil mastermind to a guilt ridden woman because Shakespeare shows how a person’s actions affect their personality by having selfish desires turn into a person only driven by power and ambition....
Ib. sc. 5. Macbeth is described by Lady Macbeth so as at the same time to reveal her own character. Could he have every thing he wanted, he would rather have it mnocently;ignorant, as alas! how many of us are, that he who wishes a temporal end for itself, does in truth will the means; and hence the danger of indulging fancies, Lady Macbeth, like all in Shakspeare, is a class individualized:of high rank, left much alone, and feeding herself with day-dreams of ambition, she mistakes the courage of fantasy for the power of bearing the consequences of the realities of guilt. Hers is the mock fortitude of a mind deluded by ambition; she shames her husband with a superhuman audacity of fancy which she cannot support, but sinks in the season of remorse, and dies in suicidal agony. Her speech:
Ib. sc. 2. Now that the deed is done or doingnow that the first reality commences. Lady Macbeth shrinks. The most simple sound strikes terror, the most natural consequences are horrible, whilst previously every thing, however awful, appeared a mere trifle; conscience, which before had been hidden to Macbeth in selfish and prudential fears, now rushes in upon him in her own veritable person:
on the entrance of the deeper traitor for whom Cawdor had made way! And here in contrast with Duncan's 'plenteous joys,' Macbeth has nothing but the common-places of loyalty, in which he hides himself with 'our duties.' Note the exceeding effort of Macbeth's addresses to the king, his reasoning on his allegiance, and then especially when a new difficulty, the designation of a successor, suggests a new crime. This, however, seems the first distinct notion, as to the plan of realizing his wishes; and here, therefore, with great propriety, Macbeth's cowardice of his own conscience discloses itself. I always think there is something especially Shakspearian in Duncan's speeches throughout this scene, such pourings forth, such abandonments, compared with the language of vulgar dramatists, whose characters seem to have made their speeches as the actors learn them.
The deed is done; but Macbeth receives no comfort, no additional security. He has by guilt torn himself live-asunder from nature, and is, therefore, himself in a preter-natural state: no wonder, then, that he is inclined to superstition, and faith in the unknown of signs and tokens, and super-human agencies.
Then he relapses into himself again, and every word of his soliloquy shows the early birth-date of his guilt. He is all-powerful without strength; he wishes the end, but is irresolute as to the means; conscience distinctly warns him, and he lulls it imperfectly: