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English 3 Lesson 40: Was Lady Macbeth correct? ‘What’s done is done’

Lady Macbeth makes the statement: “What’s done is done,” in her sleep, and a doctor and passer-by just so happen to hear it. The context of the story was that her husband just killed a friend of his and she is dreaming of having a conversation with him while sleepwalking. She is making these crazy remarks such as: “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!” and others, indicating she and her husband are guilty of something.

Meaning that they are now dead and there is no bringing them back and therefore the deed has been accomplished. It depends on how you interpret the phrase ‘what’s done is done’ that determines if it is correct or not.

You can interpret this physically or ethically. Lady Macbeth in this sense has used this in physical terms. When this phrase is used for whenever you can’t bring someone from the dead after you have killed them, then Lady Macbeth would certainly be correct whenever she says ‘what’s done is done.’ Macbeth, however, was more on the ethics side based in religion and morals. Macbeth makes multiple remarks on his understanding and knowledge of judgement after life. 

Allow me to give you an example of his understanding of judgement after life. Whenever Macbeth went ahead to commit a murder for Banquo’s son, before he made the action, he wasn’t able to pronounce the word ‘Amen,’ because he understood that what he was about to do was morally and ethically wrong. He was about to commit a terrible sin/crime. He won’t be able to turn back from his coming action. He knows that whenever he is about to do what he’s about to do, he commits himself in the worldly sense of later eternal condemnation. He knows that committing a murder is wrong and he can still be saved if he repents. By repenting you don’t just promise yourself to sin no more, but actually living a sin free lifestyle and being honest to yourself knowing what you get yourself involved. You actually have to live up to your words of repentance or else there is no saving.

It isn’t just Macbeth who has this point of view, the doctor that happened to hear Lady Macbeth sleep talking. The doctor has a Christian view and I think so, because multiple times he has claimed that the problem here is sin. The doctor has a good point and it fits with Macbeth’s worldview concerning ethics.

So, ethically speaking, what’s done is not done, because it’s never too late to change unless you are dead (according to most religious teachings/writing). Physically what’s done is done and Lady Macbeth would be correct, but then again ethically speaking she would be incorrect because death can determine what happens to you next in the afterlife depending on how you lived your life in the real world.

In conclusion, I believe Lady Macbeth is correct when saying ‘what’s done is done’ in physical terms, but incorrect in ethical terms and in the end, she never had the time to choose her next actions because she soon died after the sleepwalking incident.

Thanks for reading this essay. I hope you liked it or learned something new from it. I’ll be posting more soon and have a great rest of your day!

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