Macbeth Commentary Essay, Research Paper
June 2, 1999
Betrayal From Within
In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth, co-leader of King Duncan’s army, kills Duncan in order to take over the throne. Throughout the rest of the play, Macbeth attempts to overcome obstacles following the murder, in order to conceal his guilt. He has trouble, however, because the memory of his awful deed haunts him, and he cannot forget what he did. When people knowingly commit a terrible crime, they may try to resume their lives and ignore the evil committed, but often their own conscience prevents it.
Upon using the literary device characterization, Shakespeare portrays Macbeth’s of Macbeth shows Macbeth’s unhealthy state of mind after the murder. Macbeth first shows signs of difficulty when washing his hands, asking if, “All great Neptune’s oceans (could) wash this blood/ clean from my hand?”(2.2.78-79). When Macbeth’s hands remain unclean to him, the audience realizes that he cannot forget what happened to Duncan. Macbeth despairs that he cannot escape his crime and has become “Cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in/ to saucy doubts and fears”(3.4.26-27). Macbeth realizes he will have trouble concealing the truth. Despite taking many precautions to establish his innocence, it will be Macbeth’s own conscience that ultimately destroys him.
Shakespeare also uses foreshadowing to show Macbeth’s downfall during the play. In Act 5, Lady Macbeth hints that nothing can change what has happened when she says, “What’s done cannot be undone”(5.1.71). Her words let the audience know that despite everything Macbeth and his wife do, they know they can’t avoid the truth forever. When Macbeth recognizes that the murder has not solved their problems or established them in power, he says that “We have scorched the snake, not killed it”(3.2.15). He and Lady Macbeth realize that killing Duncan has only led to more crimes and misdeeds to cover the murder. Through the play, Macbeth’s words and actions let the audience see his demise as inevitable.
Like Macbeth, whenever humans try to conceal their crimes or misdeeds, their own guilt often betrays them. The magnitude of the crime usually results in the person’s uneasiness and inability to resume a normal life and can eventually destroy the person, as it did Macbeth. Observers may even sense a change in him and foresee the person’s impending downfall as he desperately tries to cover his crimes. A person who commits an evil deed may escape detection from those around him, but he cannot overcome the guilt that lies within his heart.