In Macbeth, what are the best examples of characters who lose hope of redemption when they choose the path of violence and betrayal?

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Macbeth and Lady Macbeth best characterize this idea. Both plan and participate in the violent, bloody murder of King Duncan, playing upon his love and trust to slay him as he sleeps peacefully within their castle. When the deed is done, both wear Duncan's blood on their hands. After claiming Duncan's crown as King of Scotland, Macbeth continues to choose violence as the means to maintain his power. He coldly orders the murders of Banquo and Fleance (Fleance escapes, but Banquo is slain.), and in absolute cold blood, he orders the slaughter of Macduff's wife and children, as well as all his servants.

Macbeth continues his bloody rampage giving no thought to any spiritual redemption. After killing Duncan and before ordering the subsequent murders, he recognized that he had sacrificed his immortal soul for power, having given his "eternal jewel" to "the common enemy of man." Macbeth writes off any spiritual redemption for himself because he knows he has given his very soul to the Devil in exchange for the throne. Even as he faces death and reviews his life, Macbeth seeks no forgiveness. He merely acknowledges to himself that his life has been "a tale told by an idiot . . . signifying nothing." The only sign of regret he expresses can be found in his confrontation with Macduff in Act V. Macbeth does not want to fight with Macduff on the battlefield:

Of all men else I have avoided thee.

But get thee back! My soul is too much charged

With blood of thine already.

In this, Macbeth acknowledges his great sins against Macduff, but seeks no forgiveness or redemption for them, neither from Macduff nor from God. Instead, he chooses to fight to his death.

Lady Macbeth clearly believed she was beyond redemption for her deeds. Once her guilt engulfed her, she was destroyed by the weight of it. Afraid of darkness and tortured by her role in the deaths of innocents, she walks in her sleep and tries without success to wash imaginary blood from her hands, a sign of her deep psychological disturbance: "What, will these hands ne'er be clean?" Believing that her hands will never be clean because she is beyond redemption, she commits suicide.

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The characters ultimately beyond redemption are Macbeth, and possibly Lady Macbeth, because of the path toward murder they took. Banquo warns of the possibility of great danger to the soul if the words of the witches are acted upon when he says:

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray's In deepest consequence. --Banquo, Act I, scene iii

The witches are the instruments of darkness and Macbeth chooses to fall in with them and therefore he ends up losing his peace of mind, his connection to 'God' and ultimately his throne. Macbeth himself notes how far he has gone from the right path when he says:

I am in blood Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er. --Macbeth, Act III, scene iv

To return to the life he had before with friends and the approval of is peers seems to him impossible, and he begins to be aware of what he has become, he doesn't like it; but he does not apologise or make excuses. He accepts with weary resignation that he is beyond any redeption. Famously in his 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow' speech he notes:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. --Macbeth, Act V, scene v.

To Macbeth the end is near, he has no hopes for peace or heaven and he is cut off from the normal life of his peers. His wife commits suicide, and their close relationship at the start of the play has also been destroyed.


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