Lady Macbeth Symbols of Guilt: Unveiling the Blood-Stained Path

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Lady Macbeth Symbols of Guilt: Unveiling the Blood-Stained Path

Lady Macbeth’s symbols of guilt in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” serve as powerful motifs throughout the play. This essay delves into the symbolism of blood and other guilt-inducing elements associated with Lady Macbeth, exploring how they reflect her psychological unraveling. It examines key scenes where these symbols manifest, such as the infamous handwashing scene, discussing their significance in the development of her character and the play’s themes. The overview also considers the contrast between Lady Macbeth’s initial ruthlessness and her later descent into guilt-ridden madness, offering insights into the human psyche and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Also at PapersOwl you can find more free essay examples related to Lady Macbeth.

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I think the main purpose and focus of Macbeth is guilt, not punishment and crime. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth suffer from the opening act to the final act. The crimes that are committed are all linked to Macbeth’s quest for power. His actions and decisions are influenced by guilt and his wife. His choices will lead to his downfall and the death of himself and his wife. In this play, there are many themes, but guilt is one of the most significant ones.

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In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the theme of guilt is shown through Lady Macbeth, blood imagery, and Macbeth’s internal conflict with himself.

The Manipulative Force of Ambition

Lady Macbeth is a forceful character who will do anything to have her way. Once she has their way, she is consumed in guilt. Her desire for Macbeth to become King is even greater than Macbeth’s own desire. Throughout the play, Macbeth is pressured into committing unforgivable acts to achieve the throne of King Duncan. An example of Lady Macbeth pressuring Macbeth is in Act 1, scene 7 when Lady Macbeth questions her husband’s manhood and makes him feel less of a man by saying, “When you durst do it, then you were a man” She is further trying to convince by telling him he will be “more than what you were, you would” If he killed King Duncan. Lady Macbeth then shows her guilt towards the deaths of Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macduff, and her family. Lady Macbeth’s guilty conscience is revealed in Act 2 Scene 3 when she recites, ‘Had he not resembled My father, as he slept, I had done.’ She claims she would have done it, but King Duncan Looks too much like her father, so she couldn’t kill him. Lady Macbeth displays her guilt again in Act 5, scene 1 when she is sleepwalking. She discussed her feelings and talked about her guilt. Lady Macbeth shows this guilt when she says, “Wash your hands, put on your nightgown. Look not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on’s grave” (Act 5 Scene 1). This shows how Lady Macbeth is constantly thinking about the deaths that she was part of. Even though it was a long time ago, the guilt still weighs on her shoulders, and the feeling of guilt is taking over her life and ultimately causes her to commit suicide. Lady Macbeth shows her guilt throughout this whole play.

Blood is also a constant symbol of guilt and a significant image in the play and occurs throughout the 5 acts. Blood also represents murder, which results in guilt in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. He is hesitant to commit this murder on King Duncan, but with the help of Lady Macbeth’s persistence and nonstop begging, he ends up murdering the King. Macbeth makes the choice to kill Duncan. The blood on his hands shows an image and feeling of guilt. Finally, blood is also shown through the murders that were committed.


In conclusion, Shakespeare displays guilt through various acts of imagery and detailed description words in the play. The theme of guilt is expressed by Lady Macbeth through the image and Macbeth’s self-conflict. Guilt is a major factor in people’s lives and will continue to haunt the characters of Macbeth for a long time. Guilt can be a result of many things, as it is a feeling that remains forever. Macbeth commits this poor action just to be happy, but in the end, he is only left with much remorse.


  1. “Lady Macbeth” by Susan Fraser King

  2. “Lady Macbeth: A Novel” by Susan Lake

  3. Lady Macbeth: Gender, Power, and Isolation” by Lois Potter

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Lady Macbeth Symbols of Guilt: Unveiling the Blood-Stained Path. (2023, Aug 20). Retrieved from