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Guilt plays an immense role in the everyday lives of thousands of people. The feeling of shame and regret can insinuate itself into one’s actions and feelings. Knowing that one did something wrong can change the way he or she lives forever. In stories, guilt is often incorporated to create an internal conflict. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, guilt is developed through Macbeth’s worries after murdering Duncan, his hallucinations of blood and a dagger, and his visions of Banquo’s ghost. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth verbalizes his guilt to Lady Macbeth. Macbeth states, “I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’ stuck in my throat” (2.2.31-33). His feeling of guilt prevented him from being able to say a holy word when he needed it most. Even immediately after the murder, Macbeth is already feeling guilty for his actions. Later, he also says, “I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house; ‘Glamis hath murther’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more'” (2.2.42-43). His guilt has caused him to fear that he will never sleep again. In his mind, only the innocent sleep, and he is no longer innocent. He also says, “I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on’t again I dare not” (2.2.51-53). Even right after committing the murder, Macbeth felt the weight of his deed. He is afraid to think about what he has done. Macbeth’s guilt is also shown through his visions of a dagger and the blood on his hands. In a soliloquy, he says, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still” (2.1.33-36). Due to his guilt, Macbeth is not sure if the dagger he hallucinates is real or not (Jamieson). His senses have become overwhelmed by his guilt, affecting his vision and hallucinations. In addition, Macbeth says, “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” (2.1.61-63). His guilt and murder are represented by blood, and he is unable to wash it off. He feels that his guilt is so strong that he will turn the ocean red with blood (Macbeth Essay). Macbeth’s hallucinations are a product of the guilt he feels for murdering his friend, King Duncan. Another representation of his guilt comes after the murder of Banquo. Macbeth hallucinates Banquo’s ghost, who sits down at Macbeth’s place at the table. When asked to sit at the table, Macbeth states, “The table’s full” (3.4.48). He does not realize that the person he sees sitting in his spot is in fact just the ghost of Banquo. Though Macbeth did not physically kill Banquo, he still feels guilty for ordering murderers to kill him. This is also shown when Macbeth is faced with Banquo’s ghost again with the help of the witches. Macbeth exclaims, “Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down! Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs” (4.1.117-118). Macbeth cannot bear to look at the Banquo and his descendants due to his guilt about killing him. Macbeth’s guilt progresses throughout the play, and it surfaces in the worries he voices to Lady Macbeth, the hallucinations of a dagger and blood on his hands, and the visions of the ghost of Banquo. Throughout Macbeth, guilt becomes one of his main focuses. It becomes a part of his life in such a way that he cannot even tell what is real and what is just a figment of his imagination. In this way, guilt has the ability to control people’s actions and change their lives.

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