Why did Shakespeare choose to portray Macbeth as so conscience-stricken by his deed in Macbeth?For instance, in Act 2 of Macbeth, Macbeth says "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! /...

Why did Shakespeare choose to portray Macbeth as so conscience-stricken by his deed in Macbeth?

For instance, in Act 2 of Macbeth, Macbeth says "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! / Macbeth doth murder sleep.'"

Asked on by hsm2luv

1 Answer | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question at a time. Additional questions must be posted separately.]

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth is presented as a conscience-stricken man. Itcan besaid that Shakespeare does this in order to remind the audience how far this man has gone, and how, ironically, weak he is in acting against his better judgment and his heart, for he truly loved Duncan.

Macbeth is a nobel warrior, much loved by Duncan, his King. Duncan rewards Macbeth immediately for his valor in the recent battle, and promises to do more. Macbeth is the King's loyal subject and his cousin.

When Macbeth returns home, having sent word in a letter to his wife, of the witches' prophecies and Duncan's deeds in his favor, Lady Macbeth immediately begins to plot the King's murder. When Macbeth is disinclined to go ahead with the plan, his wife insults his manhood, calling him a coward. This would not have been enough to move Macbeth by itself, but his tragic flaw is "vaulting ambition"—he will do anything to move up, eventually to become king.

At the beginning, Macbeth is conflicted. He is torn between what he wants and what he thinks he should avoid (regicide). This inner conflict for Macbeth not only makes him more believable, but it is only by seeing how resistant to killing he is at the beginning that we can truly appreciate how mad for power he becomes by the end of the play, killing his best friend, and women and children.

We’ve answered 318,914 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question