How is the theme of guilt portrayed and explored in act 5, scene 1, in Macbeth?

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Lady Macbeth's waiting gentlewoman seems to realize that she is sleepwalking as a result of some terrible and deep-seated guilt, as she tells the doctor that she "will not report" the things she's heard the queen say. He argues that it is appropriate for the gentlewoman to be honest with him, and she says,

Neither to you nor anyone, having no
witness to confirm my speech. (5.1.19–20)

The gentlewoman refuses to tell the doctor what Lady Macbeth has said without someone to witness her own speech. This must mean that the queen has revealed events for which she feels guilty. When Lady Macbeth enters, complaining that she cannot wash the blood spots off her hands, it becomes apparent that the gentlewoman is right: Lady Macbeth suffers from terrible guilt. She seems to replay the night of Duncan's murder; she even wonders where Macduff 's wife is now. Lady Macbeth compelled her husband to kill the king, and he hasn't stopped killing since. It is clear that she helped to create a monster, and she likely...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 648 words.)

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