Guilt and Suspicion

Shakespeare's Macbeth

King Duncan's Murder

Macbeth was battling demons when he was debating whether or not to kill King Duncan to be crowned king. Lady Macbeth persuaded him into murdering the king and his two guards. He was frantic after he committed the murders, and his wife had to comfort him by telling him if he washed his hands, they would be clean. However, Macbeth felt guilty for his crimes.

After their father's murder, Malcolm and Donnalbain fled their home country to escape accusations and the evil of Macbeth. We can assume that they felt guilt for leaving their country at such a vital time.

Banquo's Murder

Macbeth was suspicious that Banquo knew he committed the murders of King Duncan and the servants. He hired assassins to murder Banquo and his son. They devised a plan, but while Banquo was being murdered his son, Fleance, escaped.

At the banquet, Macbeth was having hallucinations and thought he saw Banquo's ghost. We can assume that his actions were a result of the guilt he felt for murdering his friend.

Those attending the banquet were becoming suspicious of Macbeth's odd behavior.


Lady Macduff felt alienated by her husband, Macduff, who secretly left his home to accompany Malcolm in his attempt to overthrow Macbeth. His family was left to fend for themselves and in turn were murdered by Macbeth's hired assassins. Macduff grieved at the loss of his family and wanted to get revenge on Macbeth. We believe that part of Macduff's grief was also the guilt of leaving his family behind.

Lady Macbeth

In the beginning, Lady Macbeth showed no feeling of remorse for committing murder; However, she became "ill" as the guilt overtook her. According to the doctor she was not capable of being cured. During the night, Lady Macbeth committed suicide to escape her indiscretion.


Throughout the play, Macbeth gradually became more evil as he lusted for power. After killing King Duncan and his servants, Macbeth was beside himself in guilt and anxiety. He continued to kill and became more calloused to the act of murder. Eventually he murdered without giving it a second thought. Before the battle to overthrow him, Macbeth gave the "tomorrow, tomorrow" soliloquy. He professed that life is short he and doesn't understand the meaning and purpose. In the end, he will die with nothing and no one loyal to him. We feel that this is an expression of guilt for not living his life differently.
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