“So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be spilt,” wrote Shakespeare in his famous play Hamlet. Perhaps, in the spectrum of human emotions, there is no deeper feeling than guilt.
This strong emotional reaction manifests when we believe—or when we come to realize—that we’ve done something wrong or violated some universal moral standard. Guilt, and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze us—or it can ruminate into mania. It is said that Micah Rood knew this kind of madness.
When a farmer supposedly murders a traveling salesman in his orchard, under the original tree, the apples soon bleed with guilt—confessing to a sin their caretaker could not.