Clothing and Darkness in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Use of Imagery in Macbeth In Macbeth, William Shakespeare uses many forms of imagery, including the forms of clothing and darkness. Each detail in his imagery contains an important symbol of the play. These symbols that must be understood if one is to understand either the passage which contains it or the play as a whole. In Macbeth, the image of clothing is used to suggest that throughout the play, Macbeth is seeking to hide his "disgraceful self" from his eyes and from others. Shakespeare wants to keep alive the ironical contrast between the wretched creature that Macbeth really is and the disguises he assumes to conceal that fact. Secondly, honors are thought of as garments to be worn; likewise, Macbeth is constantly represented symbolically as the wearer of robes not belonging to him. He is wearing an "undeserved dignity." A crucial point in describing the purpose of clothing in ‘Macbeth' is found in the fact that these are not his garments. Therefore, Macbeth is uncomfortable in them because he is continually conscious of the fact that they do not belong to him. In the following passage, the idea constantly recurs that Macbeth's new honours sit ill upon him, like a loose and badly fitting garment, belonging to someone else: New honours come upon him, Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould, But with the aid of use. (1.3.144) The second, most important chain of imagery used to add to the atmosphere is that of darkness. In a Shakespearean tragedy, a special tone, or atmosphere, must be created to show the darkness and blackness of it. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the design of the witches, the guilt in Macbeth's soul, and the darkness of the night to establish the atmosphere. The most remarkable scenes take place at night or in some dark spot. For instance, the vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, and Lady Macbeth's sleep-walking all occur at night. Darkness is when the traveler hastens to reach safety in his inn, when Banquo rides homeward to meet his assassins. Furthermore, it is the time when the wolf howls, the owl screams and murder steals forth to his work. The darkness symbolizes many things. First, and most importantly, it stands for the death and evil in the play. The darkness could partially block out all of the horrible things that occur in the night.

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