Imagery in Macbeth

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The popular quote stating that a picture is worth a thousand words applies perfectly to imagery in William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Shakespeare is famous for utilizing vivid imagery ingeniously to appeal to the reader’s senses. In his historic play, Macbeth, Shakespeare develops many types of imagery, a few of which are blood, clothing, nature, and light versus darkness. Imagery in this play is crucial in the development and revealing of major themes, conflicts, and character. It is present throughout each scene in the play, creating a malignant atmosphere of shame and deception. Seeing as how the play Macbeth is classified as a tragedy, it is no surprise that blood is the dominant image found throughout the play. This imagery is centered around the protagonist, Macbeth, and his wife, Lady Macbeth along their journey to insanity. Blood imagery is found as early as the second scene, where the Sergeant describes to King Duncan, Malcom, and others the upheaval on the battle field which he witnessed, “… with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution, like Valour’s minion carved out his passage, till he faced the slave, which never shook hands, nor bade farewell to him till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements.” (1. 2. 19-25). Here, the captain is ironically explaining how the, “… brave Macbeth…” (1. 2. 18) – since we know that he really isn’t brave nor the leader everyone thought he was – slayed Macdonwald, the leader of the rival Norwegians fighting against the homeland, Scotland, to win the battle. The motif of violence is introduced through the gory descriptive analysis of the defeat of the Norwegian leader and is carried throughout the play. After hearing the witch... ... middle of paper ... ...ith Banquo, says, “The moon is down. I have not heard the clock.” (2. 1. 2), informing the audience it is night time and therefore the possibilities of evil are evident. They are also known for using light to show good in a situation. When Banquo is murdered in the attack of him and Fleance late at night, the light he was carrying was extinguished, shown through the Third Murderer asking, “Who did strike out the light?” (3. 3. 28). Banquo’s light is a metaphor for the good life which lived, and once he was killed his light was also doused. Shakespeare blatantly makes use of his fantastic imagery, and provides the audience with feelings that could not have otherwise been felt. Imagery plays an enormous role in this play, and without Imagery this masterpiece may not have been considered so. A picture does tell a thousand words, but imagery might just tell more.

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