Macbeth: The Price for a Conscience

Essay by 234321High School, 10th grade January 2008

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There is a little place in everyone's mind where they reflect on what is right and what is wrong; this is our conscience. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the tragic hero and his wife both succumb to a heavy burden of guilt on their shoulders due to horrid deeds they have done in order to assume the throne. Evil deeds have repercussions on a person's conscience, and this guilty conscience ultimately leads to their downfall.

Throughout the play, Macbeth commits several malevolent actions all of which come back to haunt him, adding to the burden on his conscience. With Macbeth's desire to remain upon the throne, he must kill a close, personal comrade; his friend Banquo. After he sends the murderers to kill Banquo and his son, Macbeth's conscience takes a toll on his thoughts. "Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep/ In the affliction of these terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly" (III.

ii. 20-22). Macbeth is feeling that he is going too far, like killing his friend, to get what he desires. His conscience and guilt grow more, now realizing that Duncan's murder was not the only act of evil he has to do to secure his seat on the throne. Furthermore, his conscience gets back at him, as he sees Banquo's ghost sitting in his spot at the dinner table. Macbeth yells at this manifestation of guilt and it raises suspicion. Afterwards, Macbeth says, "I am in blood / Stepped in so far that should I wade no more, / Returning where as tedious as go'oer" (III, iv, 168-170). Macbeth is now seeing that he has gone over his head in murder, "seeing a trend of bloodshed but does not see its end". Macbeth's guilt is plaguing him as he sees his friend's...