In Act 3, scene 2 of Shakespeare's Macbeth, what evidence is there in the text that suggests Macbeth suffers a guilty conscience?

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lcassidy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth there are many instances of Macbeth’s guilty conscience.  For example, in Act 3, scene 2, he says to Lady Macbeth, “We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it.” (3, 2, 15)  This of course is in reference to his killing his King and feeling as though he is too far gone into his plans of destruction to make things right again.  He is no longer able to sleep well; he is constantly stressed, and admits that his mind suffers greatly.  Macbeth also admits to envying the dead king because he is now at rest.  In this same scene, he has plans to murder his close friend Banquo fearing that his sons will be kings and fulfill the same prophecies as were given onto Macbeth.  However, this time he does not include his wife in his murderous plans.  He tells her to “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck”. (3, 2, 50)  Because he is already stressed and troubled with guilt, he does not want to impose the same fate and troubles onto his wife.