Guilt and Blame in the Road to Destruction

Guilt is a common emotion, that has the ability to bring people to their knees. When guilt becomes great enough, the effects it has on people go much deeper than the surface. People’s minds and body’s are overpowered by the guilt that consumes them every second they live with their burden.   Blaming others is a way to ease your mind for what you have done, but it is not excusable.  Both of the main characters in Macbeth and Thirteen Reasons Why have guilt and blame on there minds. Prior to Macbeth and Hannah’s deaths,  they feel both guilt over their own impulsive decisions, and blame towards others where the responsibility of actions should rest solely on themselves. The people around them feel guilt for how they have influenced them and their part in the deaths of Macbeth and Hannah.

Guilt is a painful emotion that Macbeth has felt through the whole play, starting when he stabs Duncan to death.  Macbeth obsesses over his shamefulness which is what makes guilt a truly fitful fever.  “One cried, ‘God bless us!’ and ‘Amen,’ the other, as they had seen me with these hangman’s hands. List’ning their fear, I could not say ‘Amen,’ when they did say ‘God bless us’. Methought, I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’.”( Act II, scene II). This quote is spoken by Macbeth after killing King Duncan with the dagger. He feels extreme guilt after committing the crime. The murder that starts with his ambition to become a King ruins Macbeth’s life leading him to the darkness of guilt. The word that Macbeth used to say so easily, Amen, all of a sudden became a word that is impossible to say.  Macbeth believes that he will no longer have the protection of God because he  committed a serious murder.  He becomes unable to utter the word Amen or God bless us. 

Hannah went through a similar situation that Macbeth did. Hannah Baker isn’t kidding around where this theme is concerned.  The tapes in Thirteen Reasons Why are a huge guilt trip which she admits freely. She wants her listeners to feel bad about the way they treated her and to treat people better in the future. But as much as she makes other people feel guilty, she also feels plenty of it herself.“Everything…affects everything”(Asher, pg 202), Hannah said this quote when referring to her role in the death and rape of the two teens.  She feels responsible for Jessica’s rape, and for the boy who’s killed after Jenny runs down a stop sign. She doesn’t trust herself to do the right thing any more than she trusts the people or the tapes. Her guilt over her role in these crimes seems to drive Hannah over the edge.  Hannah made some stupid decisions which cause these events to occur.  This really affected Hannah’s mental state which involves a negative view of herself.

To accept that nobody is particularly responsible for something can be rather scary, as it means  having limited ability to control our environment. Making somebody responsible avoids this troublesome thought.  Macbeth goes through this process in his mind and the following quote shows his train of thought in that part of the play.
“ 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)
  This quote is stated immediately after Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo who shames Macbeth bringing criminality to Macbeth, pushing him deeper into guilt. Even though there are lots of other guests watching him, Macbeth cannot resist himself from acting crazily, which shows that his criminality cannot be hidden.   Macbeth realizes that he had changed so much due to the influence of Lady Macbeth. He had turned himself into a murderer from a brave and courageous man. He cannot believe that he actually committed such a crime just to become a king.  Seemingly, he regrets what he has done and wants to go back in time, but he is already stuck in abashment and guilt and contrition. This quote clearly shows Macbeth’s hope to go back in time when he had committed nothing that would go against his conscience, but he already “stepped in so far” that he cannot get away anymore.  He feels like he needs to blame someone for his actions, so he does so towards his wife which ruins there relationship. Mentally he needs to control some part of his environment and actions and the only way to do so it by blaming others.

13 Reasons Whys’ main theme is blame, which Hannah clearly has no problem in telling her 13 listeners through her tapes.  She starts off with saying this, “I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”(Asher, pg 7)  From the very start of the book Hannah feels that if it wasn’t for those 13 people around her, she might still be alive.  Macbeth and Hannah both would rather blame others for there situations in life than realize and accepts that it was them who made those costly decisions.  At the start of the play we see the witches, Macbeth, and Banquo talking and tell the men about the prophecies ahead which will come true.  
“FIRST WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
SECOND WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
THIRD WITCH
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter! “Act 1, Scene iii, lines 51-53) This quote indicates that this is the first moment that Macbeth thinks about the idea of murdering king Duncan and he blames them for that reason.  Macbeth blames the witches and his wife mostly for putting the idea in his head for murdering Duncan, and Hannah blames friends who put her down in a negative way which cause her to take her own life.  

Not only do the two main characters in the books succumb to the natural tendencies of blame and guilt, but the minor characters do as well.  In Macbeth,  Lady Macbeth is one of the key reasons why Macbeth decided to kill Duncan.  Lady Macbeth used her full woman powers to insult Macbeth and the following quote shows it.  Lady Macbeth enters and tells her husband that the king has dined and that he has been asking for Macbeth. Macbeth declares that he no longer intends to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth, outraged, calls him a coward and questions his manhood: “When you durst do it,” she says, “then you were a man” (Macbeth, Act1, Scene vii, line 49). He asks her what will happen if they fail; she promises that as long as they are bold, they will be successful. Then she tells him her plan: while Duncan sleeps, she will give his chamberlains wine to make them drunk, and then she and Macbeth can slip in and murder Duncan. They will smear the blood of Duncan on the sleeping chamberlains to cast the guilt upon them. Astonished at the brilliance and boldness of her plan, Macbeth tells his wife that her “undaunted mettle” makes him hope that she will only give birth to male children (Act 1, Scene vii, line 73). He then agrees to proceed with the murder.  

Clay, from,13 Reasons Why, struggles a lot with blaming himself for not seeing the signs and doing something to prevent Hannah from committing suicide. “and that’s why, right at that moment, I felt so much hate.  Toward myself.  I deserved to be on this list.  Because if I hadn’t been so afraid of everyone else I might have told Hannah that someone cared.  And Hannah might still be alive.”(Asher, pg 181). Clay was afraid of what other people would think of him.  He was there for her, always was, but he didn’t make himself available and noticeable.  He hid hoping that she would recognize him there with arms wide open.  If he had just spoken up and told her that he cared, that he loved her, and needed her, then she would have gotten the resistance that she needed to stop her.“No matter what I’ve said so far, no matter who I’ve spoken of, it all comes back to – it all ends with – me.”(Asher, pg 253)  Hannah blames herself here. She doesn’t try to minimize the guilt of the other characters, but she seems to be suggesting that everything is intricately intertwined.  Life is a result of your choices and decisions.  Don’t blame anyone else for your decisions.  Learn from them, and grow from them.  Macbeth definitely didn’t do that, after murdering Duncan he knew he had to do the same to Banquo because he knew too much and it just kept escalating from there. Macbeth just kept blaming everyone but himself for what he was doing.  It finally took until the end of the play when he was facing death for him to realize that it was his fault.  From making that one bad decision, Hannah had to face the consequence which turned out to be torturing herself in her mind.  “You can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is…now.” (Asher, pg 206) This quote just shows how much she regrets what she’s done.  Both of these characters go through the same internal torture.  Lady Macbeth also goes through similar things that Clay has gone through, both of them regret what they didn’t do and what they shouldn’t have done.  Lady Macbeth was the one that pushed Macbeth to kill Duncan, but she herself cant wipe the guilt from her hands.   The following quote takes place when she has a dream and sleepwalks.  “Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why, then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?–Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.( Act V, Scene I, line 39-44)  Lady Macbeth can’t rid herself of this guilt that she has done which is similar to what Clay is going through by letting the guilt eat him up and what he could have done.

In closing, guilt and blame ties these two pieces of literature together in many different ways.  Macbeth blamed others for pushing him to do terrible things to innocent people and Hannah blamed others for how they treated her which pushed her to the breaking point.  Minor characters did play an important role with the main themes that tie these to books together, from Lady Macbeth going through the same kind of guilt during her dream to Clay realizing that he didn’t do enough to help her which could have saved her life.  Guilt and blame was what really connected these two pieces together and how the characters though and acted throughout the stories. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *