Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does Shakespeare present the theme of guilt in Macbeth, act 2, scene 2?

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It is interesting to note how the theme of guilt is portrayed through both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in act 2, scene 2.

The scene begins with Lady Macbeth announcing her lack of guilt. She claims that drink has made her "bold" and that she feels nothing but triumph in the death of King Duncan. Of course, there is a note of ambivalence on the matter when Lady Macbeth claims she could not do the stabbing herself since Duncan resembles her father in his sleep, yet she seems confident and happy.

Macbeth, on the other hand, is tormented by what he has done. Though Lady Macbeth tells him not to think too much about the killing, Macbeth claims he has "murdered sleep"—that is, he knows he will never be able to relax again, not only from feeling horrible about killing a good king but from the fear that he will eventually be found out. He is so affected that he does not want to plant the weapons on the guards because he does not want to have to look at Duncan's corpse.

Sleep acts as a motif for peace in...

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