Shakespeare Themes - Forgiveness
In Hamlet King Claudius is convinced that he can be forgiven by God for murdering his brother, but he knows also that to be forgiven he must be sorry, and for his sorrow to be genuine he must give up what he has gained by the murder. This he is not prepared to do and so forgiveness remains beyond his grasp.
It's hardly an issue in Macbeth. Though reluctant at first, once Macbeth has committed his first murder he doesn't consider repenting. Instead he continues to murder those he feels are a threat to him, showing that we can drift so far from goodness that the return journey can seem unattractive or downright imposible:
"I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er: "

Close this window to return to the Themes page.