The Bard of Avon considers imagery one of many elements in his tragedy Macbeth which give underpinning to the theme of the drama. The imagery might be said to be not a goal in itself but a means to an end.
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 determining quality. For those who pay most attention to these powerful atmospheric suggestions, this is doubtless true. Mr. Kenneth Muir, in his introduction to the play - which does not, by the way, interpret it simply from this point of view - aptly describes the cumulative effect of the imagery: "The contrast between light and darkness is part of a general antithesis between good and evil, devils and angels, evil and grace, hell and heaven . . . and the disease images of IV, iii and in the last act clearly reflect both the evil which is a disease, and Macbeth himself who is the disease from which his country suffe...
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...e's Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion. New York: 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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