The ten-letter word “conscience” is an unavoidable part of human life. It helps to shape a man’s moral sense as it does in Macbeth. Conscience acted as an accuser in the said Shakespearean drama when Macbeth murdered King Duncan. With an honest confession, it appears in the shape of thwarted conscience in Macbeth after the deed of murder.
The words uttered by Macbeth immediately after Duncan’s murder show how thwarted conscience is alive with Macbeth’s guilt feeling. His words:
“ To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking;
I would thou couldst……….. “
clearly exposes Macbeth’s suffering from a bitter sense of guilt. For this ever-living Shakespearean character, the moral sense is still alive and kicking his human feeling even after implementing his pre-planned crime. From the moment of his criminal deed, he understands that he has murdered his peace of mind. It is reasonably visible in the next part of the Shakespearean drama that projects Macbeth as the King of Scotland.
Being the crowned head, he prepares for arranging a banquet. However, readers can smell an uneasiness in him. His strange gestures and appearance at the Banquet throw a glimpse of this uneasiness. Over time, Macbeth’s conscience is turning for the worse. Both the Banquet attendees and the play’s readers acquire a strong perception regarding this unavoidable thwarted conscience in Macbeth.
Moreover, the bitter truth about guilt feeling doesn’t end here. Thwarted conscience in Macbeth once again gets momentum when he plans Banquo’s murder. For his safety, the Shakespearean character feels no strong hesitation in arranging Banquo’s death. His moral sense even doesn’t work as a restraining force. But, Banquo’s murder and his other efforts can’t provide him a sense of safety and satisfaction. And, he feels a reawakening of the conscience. As a result, he has a glimpse of Banquo’s Ghost at the Banquet. His cry:
“It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.”
makes it clear that guilt feelings have undoubtedly spurred him to face the thorns of conscience. Now, the thwarted conscience in Macbeth forces him to call the Witches to gather information about his future. In a word, the tragic hero of Shakespeare is desperate to find a way of mental peace. He is searching for a way to get rid of his criminality. However, in his next course of action, he decides to kill his conscience by murdering Macduff’s children and wife.
William Shakespeare has vividly depicted the actual confrontation of a human mind by portraying the character of Macbeth. The murder of Macduff’s children and wife shows how a man with acute criminality tries to perform every possible criminal work. The words “new widows howl and new orphans cry” reveal how a person can further degenerate his every future move. He is well aware of the fact that his deeds are not forgivable anymore. For him, every fresh morning acts as a reminder of his criminal deeds. He is now aware that the degeneration in his character can hear the cry of lamentation, but he cannot amend that cry.
The inability is very much visible in his words that he utters after his wife’s death. He confesses:
“ I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been….
………I have supped full with horrors.”
The words reveal that Macbeth has nearly forgotten the feeling of fear. There was indeed a time when he felt terrified by the shriek in the night. The hair on his skin even stood up when he heard the ghost story. But his feelings for real horrors have now changed. At present, he is so familiar with the horrible things that they no more scare him. In a word, his capacity to feel is dead now. His conscience is alive but in a different form. It is the thwarted conscience. Yes, the thwarted conscience in Macbeth now cries with a guilt feeling. In the courtyard of life, Macbeth now only hears the rebuke of the thwarted conscience.