Blood as an Image of Honor, Betrayal and Guilt in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Blood as an Image of Honor, Betrayal and Guilt in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Blood is usually interpreted as a sign of horror and wrongdoing; however, in the play Macbeth, Shakespeare associates blood with a variety of atmospheres. Blood imagery begins with the fight against one traitor, the Thane of Cawdor, and ends with the death of another, Macbeth. Although the uses of blood produce different effects, both are used to symbolize death. Shakespeare generates other blood imagery throughout the play to create impressions of honor, betrayal and guilt. Shakespeare begins the play using the image of blood to symbolize honor and victory. In the fight against the original Thane of Cawdor, the captain who is covered in blood, is recognized as triumphant because of his noticeable wounds; "So well thy words become thee as they wounds: / They smack of honor both." (1.2.47-48). The bloody soldier is used to exemplify the victory of the king's armies in battle. Macbeth's success in combat is also represented by blood, "For Brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), / Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, / Which smoked with bloody execution" (1.2.18-20). This blood gives Macbeth a new title and respect. Shakespeare has blood, a customary sign of death and conflict, create an atmosphere of honor and success. Contrary to a representation of honor, Shakespeare creates images of blood to symbolize betrayal. Blood on the dagger Macbeth uses to kill Duncan represents the treachery to the king. Lady Macbeth betrays the truth of the murder with the intentions of framing the attendants "Carry [the daggers] and smear / the sleepy grooms with blood" (2.2.63-64). Another example of blood as a symbol of betrayal is the second apparition. Shakespeare uses a bloody baby to represent the witches' betrayal of Macbeth. The seemingly reassuring apparition tricks him into a sense of false security, leading to his demise. Shakespeare uses blood as a symbol of guilt with the character Lady Macbeth. She ridicules Macbeth for his morality, "Yet I do fear thy nature; / It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness," and

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