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bloodmac Importance of Blood in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Importance of Blood in Macbeth

In Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth, the symbol of blood is an important device. The fundamental physical notion of blood is a stark sign of illness or mishap that all humans must share. Within Macbeth the imagery of blood is used over and over again and it is developed by Shakespeare until it becomes not only a dominating theme but wholly integrated within the plot.

Perhaps the best way to show how the symbol of blood changes throughout the play is to follow the character changes in Macbeth. First he is a brave honored soldier, but as the play progresses acknowledged and trusted by his king, he becomes a treacherous person who has become identified with death and bloodshed, and ends up killing Duncan who put so much trust in him. This is ironic because the previous Thane of Cawdor was executed for treason, which is the first thought that comes into his mind when he is appointed Thane. He knows that the King's trust was misplaced; the fact that he murdered his king plays upon his conscience and shows his guilt in different forms. The situation worsens for him after he murders Banquo, who was one of his most loyal and trusted friends.

A similar idea can also be applied to lady Macbeth, as her character changes dramatically throughout the course of the play. Hers and Macbeth's roles can be seen to swap in a way. When the idea of killing Duncan comes into the minds of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth is uncertain, he seems withdrawn about the whole idea. Lady Macbeth comes across as evil and bloodthirsty, for it is she who ensures that the murder takes place. Towards the end of the play though, although both characters show the immense guilt of what they have done...

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... treachery, to guilt then returns to honor once again. This movement in symbolism is maneuvered by the villain whose actions that allow the change. The reformation to honor is sanction after the villain is killed.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bradley, A.C. Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1991.

Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes, Slaves of Passion. Gloucester: Peter Smith Publisher Inc., 1973.

Edwards, Terence. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Macbeth. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1977.

Hunter, G.K. "Macbeth in the Twentieth Century." Aspects of Macbeth. Ed. Kenneth Muir

Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.

Scott, Mark W. (Editor). Shakespeare for Students. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 1992
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