Shakespeare Themes - Sin
What is sin anyway? One could say it's a wrongdoing seen as an offence against God. Actions can be judged as being sinful but we must be wary of being judgemental about people. Shakespeare is interested in the mental processes surrounding sin. In Macbeth he teases out the inner conflict of a man considering one of the worse sins - murder. Macbeth doesn't rationalise (make excuses). He undestands clearly the serious wrongness of what he proposes to do and freely chooses to do it - a classic case of mortal sin, the kind of sin that breaks our relationship with God. We see the damning consequences of this for Macbeth - a sharp descent into evil and paranoia where he looses peace of mind, friendship and finally all hope.
In Hamlet the murder (and adultery this time) has been done before the action of the play starts, but the sin is still bothering the culprit - this nagging of conscience is a sign that the sin is still recognised as such - no amorality here! This offers hope of repentance but as sin involves free choice, so does repentance, and Claudius is not genuine about this.

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