In Macbeth Shakespeare develops the idea of the conscience through two characters; Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
In the beginning of the play Macbeth seems to be the genuine hero, and generally he is a good man. Macbeth even praises Duncan at certain points before he murders him. Macbeth remarks, "... hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels trumpet-tongu'd against the deep damnation of his taking off." (I, Vii, 18) Macbeth possesses a very ambitious spirit, which consequently leads him to his downfall. Macbeth first begins in displaying his ambitions by saying, "as happy prologues to the swelling act..." (I, iii, 129) Even though Macbeth is a hero he must have a tragic downfall. His conscience haunts him and he fears to accept the consequences of his own actions. Macbeth horrifies himself with images of ghosts and of daggers dripping with blood.
Macbeth expresses his final feeling on life when he says, " To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow." (V, v, 19) Lady Macbeth seems to remain very graceful under extreme pressure. Throughout most of the play she suffers no noticeable guilt. She continuously urges Macbeth into Duncan's murder in many ways including questioning his "manhood." For the most part Lady Macbeth appears to be a gracious hostess. She says, "You have displac'd the mirth, broke the good meeting with most admir'd disorder." (III, Iv, 109) Macbeth's conscience seems to be causing him agony while Lady Macbeth's seems to be causing her none.
In the end Lady Macbeth's crimes do haunt her, and that is portrayed through the actions of sleepwalking, continuously washing her hands and resolving her guilt in suicide. Lady Macbeth discusses her sins to a doctor and a gentlewoman in Act V Scene I. She says, "What! Will these hands ne'er be clean?" She cannot cleanse herself of the guilt she feels so Lady Macbeth resorts to suicide.
Shakespeare develops the idea of the conscience in his play, Macbeth by using two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.