In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth the theme of guilt is shown in the development of the characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The reason Macbeth and Lady Macbeth struggle with guilt because they plot and murder Duncan, the King of Scotland, so that Macbeth may become King and his wife, Queen. In Macbeth, guilt takes the form of fear and paranoia. In contrast for Lady Macbeth guilt is something she ignores and it ends up destroying her.
In the beginning we see Macbeth as an honourable and noble man, but as the play carries on we see guilt transform his character. (I, ii), Duncan and the Sergeant are discussing the battle against Norway and how Macbeth was so brave and loyal, which illustrates his good character. When the witches tell Macbeth their prophecies for him, being Thane of Cawdor and King (I. iii), he is astonished, which shows that he was not aspiring to steal the title. Although he was surprised, the prophecy planted a seed of thought in Macbeth’s head about becoming King. When the witches greet Macbeth,
“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter!” (I. iii. 48-50)
he is confused because he is being addressed with titles that he does not posses. It was not until the thane of Cawdor was killed that Macbeth gave any serious thought to what the witches had said. When Macbeth found out he had been announced thane of Cawdor he said aside,
“If chance will have me king, why,
Chance may crown me,
Without my stir.” (I, iii, 44-46)
meaning if his luck made him King then that is great but he would not stir things up and try to cause it himself. He starts to wonder if his becoming King might actually happen, but he declares that he will not do anything to make it happen. It is not until he writes home to Lady Macbeth, telling her of his meeting with the witches and their prophecy of his becoming thane of Cawdor,...