Hey, again, can I get some feedback on my new Macbeth essay with a different question, I have tried to fix the issues with my last one. Hopefully, I have improved the mark.
Thank you so much again!
Question: Analyse how ideas of guilt were developed for a particular purpose
Guilt is a complex human emotion that causes massive psychological corruption. Guilt brings down the great chain of being and destroys lives. In Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, Guilt is an important theme that is developed throughout the play to show the effects of Guilt on people’s lives. This idea is explored by Shakespeare’s usage of motifs, such as blood, hallucinations, and sleep. Each motif expands Shakespeare’s warning about the destructive nature of guilt, it serves as a warning of how immoral actions can lead to a drastic mental cost.
Shakespeare’s view on the nature of guilt is conveyed through his use of the motif of blood. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth laments about the blood on his hands, “‘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” Shakespeare’s deliberate use of a hyperbole here emphasises to the reader that the immense guilt is so poisonous it has the power to corrupt nature itself. This thought of Macbeth’s deliberately juxtaposes his wife’s earlier sentiment that “a little water clears us of the deed.” Shakespeare implies that Lady Macbeth doesn’t understand the damaging effect of guilt on the human mind, which in turn is an example of dramatic irony because she is the one whose guilt directly leads to her demise. Macbeth however is shown to realise the severity of their actions and what it means for them. The usage of blood as a symbol for death and guilt continues throughout the play, most notably in Lady Macbeth’s attempt to remove invisible blood from her hands, “Out, Damned spot! Out, I say!” Shakespeare continues to show the deterioration of Lady Macbeth’s mind through the symbol of blood. She is shown to slowly lose her mind as a direct result of the delayed guilt of the murder she helped commit,
Shakespeare highlights how guilt can drive a person to eventual doom.
The purpose of Shakespeare’s use of hallucinations, which are seen by both Macbeth and his wife in the play, is to show how guilt tarnishes the psyche. Before Macbeth murders Duncan, he sees a dagger floating in the air, he asks, “Art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from my heat-oppressed brain?” Shakespeare’s usage of his soliloquy shows that this is Macbeth’s true concern which tells the reader that he is unsure whether he can trust his own mind. The term “heat-oppressed” refers to his inability to cope with the pressure of guilt that he is feeling. It also connotates a fever-like quality, which portrays guilt as a disease or illness. During Shakespeare’s time, it was not uncommon to believe that people experiencing mental distress, like the effects of Macbeth’s guilt, were possessed by an evil spirit. After seeing the ghost of Banquo, he states, “Thou canst not say I did it: Never shake thy gory locks at me.” Shakespeare’s intention was to bring light to Macbeth’s attempt to remove the blame from himself to try and protect his already “heat oppressed brain” that is overwhelmed by his guilt. This shows how the guilt is affecting him so deeply as to make him hallucinate and see the dead. Shakespeare uses the dagger and Banquoi’s ghost to emphasise the haunting effect of guilt on Macbeth’s mind–warning the reader of the consequences of acting immorally.
Sleep is a symbol of serenity and peace, Shakespeare employs sleep to show how guilt denies people of these things, forcing them into eternal torment. Upon reflection of the murder of Duncan, Macbeth airs his regrets, “In the affliction of these terrible dreams that shake us nightly. Better be with the dead whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace. Than on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave. After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.” Shakespeare conveys how Macbeth is tormented constantly by his guilt and is envious of Duncan who, “sleeps well”. Macbeth’s life lacks the serenity and peace that sleep brings, and it is ruining his mental health. Directly after the murder, he hears a voice that says, “Macbeth shall sleep no more” Sleep is utilized to symbolise peace of mind and by committing the murder, Macbeth has forfeited that and sentenced himself to endless torment. Shakespeare’s purpose is to warn readers of the torture guilt places on you.
Shakespeare uses motifs such as Blood, Hallucinations, and Sleep to warn readers of the dangerous psychological effect of guilt. His purpose was to further the reader’s understanding of the theme and deepen their knowledge of the consequences of our actions, as a society. ‘Macbeth’ is an example of tragic life-ending guilt, Shakespeare warns of how easily you can succumb to temptation like Macbeth and end up with guilt’s nasty outcome.