Images and Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Imagery in Macbeth

In Shakespeare's tragic play, Macbeth, the use of imagery is connected with character development as well as theme throughout the play.

From the beginning of the play the image of darkness is introduced. Darkness was called upon by Banquo, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Banquo, in his aside to Macbeth says,

But tis strange and oftentimes, to win us to our harm, /the instruments of darkness tell us truths, /win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence (I.ii.131-135).

Banquo shows he is immediately aware that the witches are associated with darkness. He chooses not to act on the witches' prophecies, but to be wary and reluctant. He is not ready to involve himself with the witches, since he sees them as a dark force. However, Macbeth is on opportunist and the image of darkness reveals his deepest, darkest desires. This is shown in Macbeth's aside,

The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step/ On which I must fall down or else o'ver-leap, / For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;/ Let not light see my black and deep desires" (I.iv.55-58).

It becomes apparent that it bothered Macbeth a great deal to hear that Malcolm was named successor to King Duncan. In response, Macbeth calls on darkness to hide his evil thoughts. Lady Macbeth also conjures up the forces of darkness to ensure the heavens don't see her having these thoughts,

Come, thick night, /And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, /That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, / N'or heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, /To cry, "Hold, hold" (I.v.53-57!

By the end of Act I, we can see that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have...

... middle of paper ... fit in and was never comfortable with a role he obtained by evil means.

Shakespeare's images are not only connected to his characters and theme but also are woven into a moral message. Shakespeare is warning his audience to refrain from getting caught up in the pool of blood and darkness. One will never be satisfied with his achievements if he obtains them by unholy means. Self-gratification comes from the honest pursuit of worthwhile goals.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William, Macbeth, Toronto: Harcourt Brace and Company, Inc, 1988.

Webster, Noah, New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, New York: Rockville House Publishers, Inc, 1965.

"Shakespeare's Use of Imagery." 1997: 1-4. Prestige Web. Internet. 10 Dec. 2001.

"Symbolism in Macbeth." 1996: 1-3. Stanford Online Archives. Internet. 10 Dec. 2001.
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