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wjec eduqas gcse English literature - guilt Macbeth

right so ive completely ****edmy eng lit on Macbeth because I only looked at ambition so my whole essay was on ambition - and I just included the word guilt here and there but none of my points or even quotes linked directly to guilt - will I have got an awful mark? im so worried:frown: here is roughly what I wrote (ive edited the ambition one I based it on to make it more like what I put) - im just worried its rlly bad bc it doesn't directly answer the question or stay focused on it at all

Overall, Shakespeare presents guilt as a very significant theme within the play as many characters feel guilt after acting in secretive and underhand ways in order to achieve higher status. This is particularly true of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who ultimately commit the most sinful crime of regicide in order to become King and Queen, and are consumed by their guilt.

At the start of the play, Shakespeare quickly develops a sense that the characters commit acts causing them to feel guilty by creating an undertone of betrayal during the captain’s recount of the war. The audience discover that treacherous Macdonwald has sided with Norway in an attempt to overthrow Duncan. It is very significant that Shakespeare uses this backdrop of treason to first introduce Macbeth as seemingly without guilt as he hadn't done anything to be guilty of, as he battles the Norwegians, and particularly the traitor Macdonwald, because this will juxtapose later scenes when Macbeth himself becomes a traitor for his terrible ambition.

As the play continues, Shakespeare presents the witches as easily manipulating Macbeth due to his fatal ambition to gain more power. Although he hasn’t previously shown any ambition, upon hearing the witches’ prophecies it is noticeable how he becomes guilty and obsessed with increasing his status. It is significant that the moment Macbeth becomes, ironically, the new Thane of Cawdor, Shakespeare first uses ‘aside’ in the play to accentuate how Macbeth’s secret ambitions causing him guilt have already started to take place. At first, he seems confused and ashamed of himself, describing the murder of Duncan as a ‘horrid image’, but demonstrates he is also captivated by what the witches have told him and wonders hopefully if ‘chance’ may ‘crown’ him.

As the play continues to develop, Shakespeare’s first introduction of Lady Macbeth is particularly significant as she is arguably the driving force in the couple’s ambition to raise their status, and therefore their consuming guilt. As soon as she hears of the witches’ prophecies’, her first reaction is to decide to kill King Duncan as she is determined that her husband ‘shalt be what is promised’. She is prepared to sacrifice her sense of her humanity and be stripped of her human emotions in order to ensure her husband kills Duncan, demanding spirits to ‘stop up the access and passage to remorse’, suggesting she is strong and doesn't feel guilty. Furthermore, Lady Macbeth worries her husband is ‘too full of the milk of human kindness’ as this accentuates how she understands her husband better than anyone else, and that she is prepared to use their close relationship to ruthlessly manipulate him into committing regicide. however it could be argued that the fact she calls on spirits that 'tend on mortal thoughts' to 'unsex' her, means she is actually weak and needs supernatural help or else she would feel guilty.

Later in the play, Shakespeare again demonstrates the power of guilt as a result of characters who behave in evil ways. Even though Banquo suspects Macbeth has murdered King Duncan, he remains silent in the hope that he would be the ‘root and father of many kings’. Furthermore, although he recognises that the witches are evil, he hopes that they will become his ‘oracles’. This is particularly significant as it demonstrates how the characters are prepared to act loyally towards the king, whilst hiding their true guilts and 'dark desires'. Out of all the main characters, Macduff is arguably the only one that harbours nothing but loyalty and never has a reason to be guilty. He refuses to see him crowned or even go to the banquet, which perhaps implies he always remains true to Duncan, rather than guilt and hiding an agenda to gain more power.

Towards the end of the play, Shakespeare seems to depict the dangers of unconstrained guilt with the lonely death of Lady Macbeth. It seems to be implied that he hadn’t seen his wife for some time, but his reaction to hearing of her death, that ‘life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ perhaps suggests that he now realises that their terrible ambition has finally led to their downfall, and that none of it was worth what they have now lost, and the overwhelming guilt they endured.
I think that you related it back to guilt enough to not loose any marks for that, but I think your link from guilt to ambition wasn't very strong. I wouldn't worry about it though
Reply 2
ah okay thank u, yeah that makes sense! if u cld roughly tell do u think I would have got 30 marks or less? (its out of 40 total)
Original post by nataaliaaa
I think that you related it back to guilt enough to not loose any marks for that, but I think your link from guilt to ambition wasn't very strong. I wouldn't worry about it though
Original post by user93_
ah okay thank u, yeah that makes sense! if u cld roughly tell do u think I would have got 30 marks or less? (its out of 40 total)

ahh I think you'll probably get a good mark, so I would say between 30 and 35? I'm not a teacher though haha so don't take my word for it, I'm just going off of model essays I've seen :smile:
Reply 4
Original post by nataaliaaa
ahh I think you'll probably get a good mark, so I would say between 30 and 35? I'm not a teacher though haha so don't take my word for it, I'm just going off of model essays I've seen :smile:

thank u sm :smile:

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