While working with the international students this morning (those for whom English is not native or easy) they came across a lot of words in their scenes in Macbeth that were unfamiliar. We talked about the definitions of regret and repent, as well as revenge.
It’s an interesting cluster or words to have in mind when thinking of this line. Because it is neither regret nor repentance, really.
It’s just facts almost. It’s guilt but not regret. It’s self-disgust but not repentant.
I feel like those distinctions are key because it’s easy to see this monologue as a little redemptive of the king because he acknowledges his crime and wants to pray about it.
But aside from not being able to pray about it, he never really expresses regret.
He is a little like Macbeth here, steeped so far in blood there is nothing for it but to say – “Hey, I’m steeped in blood. And it smells kind of bad.”
There is no “Oh, I shouldn’t have done it” or “Can I redeem myself?”
Just an “Ouch, Guilt Hurts!”