"One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the seas from returning to a shore. In the case of the guilty, it is called remorse." Victor Hugo’s examination of Jean Valjean’s thoughts in Les Misérables applies to everybody. Humans can respond to this guilt from mistakes in different ways. Sometimes, we accept our mistakes and can carry on with our lives. Other times, we slip into a vicious cycle of denial, destroying our conscience, while other times, guilt can consume our every thought and destroys our being. Guilt is a very powerful emotion that can destroy even the strongest people unless they can find forgiveness. Lady Macbeth feels guilty about her part in Duncan’s murder. Her intense regret is best expressed in her sleep walking scene in Act V, scene i. Her sadness is also expressed in Act III, when she misses her husband’s love and endearment. This guilt eats away at Lady Macbeth’s soul, and she eventually commits suicide. Lady Macbeth allowed her guilt to fill her every thought and she let this feeling get to the point where she could bear it no more. Her mind kept on returning to thoughts of remorse she had for encouraging her husband to kill Duncan. Because Lady Macbeth was not able to forgive herself for her part in Duncan’s murder, her guilt led to her death. Macbeth responded quite differently to his guilt than Lady Macbeth. At first, he was very distraught by it. He was paralyzed by guilt for an instant, when he was unable to go back to plant the daggers on the guards. Later, he expressed his remorse to Lady Macbeth with the phrase "scorpions in my mind." He envisioned Banquo’s ghost in the dining hall, and temporarily became insane. Through these events and at other times in the play, it shows how Macbeth gradually became more immune to this guilt. At least his exterior appearance became more immune to guilt. Macbeth’s conscience seemed to be destroyed. Macbeth seemed to rationalize his murders and thus, slipped into a state of denial. This denial was not without its drawbacks though. While Macbeth was able to put the murder behind him, deep down, he knew that he couldn’t rationalize the murder, and this inner conflict stirred in Macbeth’s mind, turning him into a paranoid schizophrenic. Macbeth kept on returning to the thought of murder, and all the power each subsequent murder brought him, urging him further into evil. Although Macbeth appeared to become more cool and confident as the play progressed, I believe his outward stability progressed at the expense of his inward security. Macduff epitomizes what humans should strive for when facing their mistakes. Macduff’s mistake was not a heinous murder, yet it did end in the tragic massacre of his family. Macduff’s loyalty to his country compelled him to leave his family alone, vulnerable to Macbeth’s regime. While Macduff, like Macbeth, was temporarily paralyzed by his guilt and grief, Macduff acknowledges his own wrongdoing. By accepting his part, he was able to begin finding forgiveness. The first critical step different from Macbeth’s quest for forgiveness was Macduff was consoled by his friend Malcolm. Macduff did feel guilty for leaving his family alone, yet he realized that he could not change the past, and forced himself to move on. While Macduff probably thought about his family often, he realized that they were gone, and that he had to move on. By forgiving himself, he was able to move on to save the good of Scotland. Neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth were able to forgive themselves for their actions, yet they responded to their guilt in different ways. There are many reasons why they could have responded differently, but I believe that these characters were returning to different thoughts of remorse. Lady Macbeth kept on returning to her idea to kill Duncan, and that she convinced Macbeth to carry out the murder. She didn’t get any benefits from Duncan’s death, and felt nothing but sorry for her actions. Macbeth kept returning to the actual murder, his source of guilt, yet he received many benefits from Duncan’s death. He became king and received the admiration of Scotland. When he returned to the murder, he felt guilty, but the benefits