Who can contest the statement that William Shakespeare in the tragedy Macbeth very skillfully uses imagery to strengthen the theme and other aspects of the play? In this paper we explore the imagery in all its dimensions.
L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" explains the supporting role which imagery plays in Macbeth's descent into darkness:
To listen to the witches, it is suggested, is like eating "the insane root, That takes the reason prisoner" (I.iii.84-5); for Macbeth, in the moment of temptation, "function," or intellectual activity, is "smother'd in surmise"; and everywhere the imagery of darkness suggests not only the absence or withdrawal of light but - "light thickens" - the presence of something positively oppressive and impeding. (101)
In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye shows how the playwright uses imagery to reinforce the theme:
This theme is at its clearest where we are most in sympathy with the nemesis. Thus at the end of Macbeth, after the proclamation "the time is free," and of promises to make reparations of Macbeth's tyranny "Which would be planted newly with the time," there will be a renewal not only of time but of the whole rhythm of nature symbolized by the word "measure," which includes both the music of the spheres and the dispensing of human justice [. . .]. (94-95)
In his book, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, H. S. Wilson interprets the imagery of Macbeth:
Macbeth is a play in which the poetic atmosphere is very important; so important, indeed, that some recent commentators give the impression that this atmosphere, as created by the imagery of the play, is its determini...
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...: Barnes and Noble, 1970.
Frye, Northrop. Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1967.
Kermode, Frank. "Macbeth." The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972.
Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.
Warren, Roger. Shakespeare Survey 30. N.p.: n.p., 1977. Pp. 177-78. Rpt. in Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism. Stanley Wells, ed. England: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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