Lady Macbeth's: Guilt and Remorse Leading to Corruption and Insanity

Shakespeare puts forward the theme of remorse and guilt and highlights how once one realizes what they have done, it triggers an obsessive fixation on guilt and remorse leading to corruption and insanity. Even though Lady Macbeth was displayed as manipulative in exploiting her husband, she eventually realizes her actions, cripples and breaks down essentially victimizing herself and causing the audience to feel sympathy for her unexpected downfall. During the Jacobean era, a typical woman would have feminine characteristics and be submissive and conservative in favor of men. 

Lady Macbeth directly challenges this with her tenacious and ambitious nature, devoid of feminine characteristics, until she has processed her actions in influencing Macbeth into killing the king which corrupted her and reverted her into a more submissive and victim-like character. Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth's downward spiral into insanity through her obsessive guilt and paranoia caused by the realization of her actions leading to her ultimate downfall, being her suicide. 

After the regicide of King Duncan, Macduff reports back to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth about the murder of the King. Upon the discussion of Duncan's death, Lady Macbeth 'pretends' to faint- 'Help me hence, ho!', illustrates how Lady Macbeth 'pretends' to faint to distract everyone from Macbeth's apprehensive behaviors by utilizing feminine stereotypes to shift suspicion off Macbeth. However, Lady Macbeth may have also fainted because of the shock from her husband continuing the plan of assassinations. If Lady Macbeth's faint was real, it would suggest her moment of realization has just hit her, overwhelmed by Macbeth's actions to kill King Duncan. 

Lady Macbeth is now unwinding in her realization of her actions and is slowly descending into insanity and paranoia during her conversation with the doctor. Lady Macbeth is in shambles, stating that 'The Thane of Fife had a wife' and questioning 'Where is she now?' Showcasing her mental and emotional instability and highlighting her downfall caused by the recognition of her actions. This is instrumental in examining the feminine gender roles in the play- Nearing the start of the play, Lady Macbeth was a strong and independent ambitious character but this has contorted and been stripped into a passive, guilt-ridden, and subordinate character. By this, Shakespeare reinforces the gender characteristics their society is based upon and showcases the standards of what a woman or a man should be. 

Lady Macbeth continues to sink into madness, hallucinating blood which she claimed: 'a little water' could clean you of. Lady Macbeth unravels and presents her inner thoughts, highlighting 'the smell of blood still on her hands' which 'all the perfumes of Arabia' would be rendered ineffective against, exemplifying the hyperbole and exaggeration through her mind obsessively returning to this scene. Through the motif of blood, Lady Macbeth's guilt is showcased and her descent into paranoia and madness becomes deeply apparent. Lady Macbeth's hallucination of blood reflects her mental and emotional state, overwhelmed with guilt and paranoia. Lady Macbeth's 'Oh! Oh! Oh!' reinforces the theme of guilt and enhances Lady Macbeth's descending into insanity and guilt. Lady Macbeth has now garnished a full transformation from a malicious villain to a precarious, mentally unstable victim through her recognition of her actions. Lady Macbeth's realization of her actions slowly descent her into insanity and paranoia, becoming riddled with guilt eventually leading to her downfall being her inevitable suicide. 

07 July 2022
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