In his masterpiece Macbeth, William Shakespeare employs many motifs, but none more often than blood and water. The play includes many images of blood and water to show the characters' attitudes toward their own development of guilt. Both motifs mature and change in their meaning along with the setting and mood of the play. “Without an understanding of the blood and water symbolism, the play cannot be completely understood”(Scott 14). Blood symbolizes honor, treachery, and guilt. Water, in contrast, symbolizes cleanliness and purity of the soul, as though all it takes is water to wash guilt away.
“The word "blood," or various spellings of it, is found forty-two times”(Hawkes 39), along with several other passages dealing with the symbol. The symbolism of blood strangely follows the change in the character Macbeth. At first, Macbeth is a soldier, very highly revered by King Duncan. As the play progresses, Macbeth's demeanor declines, along with the interpretation of the blood image. Blood is then viewed as a symbol for treachery, bloodshed, and various forms of guilt.
The first reference to blood is one of honor, and occurs when Duncan sees the injured captain and says, "What bloody man is that"(I.ii.1)? This mention of blood is symbolic of honor because the brave fighter has been injured in a glorious and ardent battle for his country. In the next passage the captain says that Macbeth's sword " . . .smoked with bloody execution"(I.i.20), referring to Macbeth's bravery in battle. His sword is steaming because it is covered in the hot blood of the enemy on the cold morning of the battle. This function is important because it shows that at thi...
... middle of paper ...
Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes, Slaves of Passion. Gloucester: Peter Smith Publisher Inc., 1973.
Frame, Douglas. Night's Black Agents. Thunder Bay: La Mancha Books Ltd., 1967.
Hawkes, 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 and Philip Edwards.
Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.
Snider, Denton. Macbeth . The Shakespearean Drama, A Commentary: The Tragedies. New York: Sigma Publishing, 1887.
Steevens, George. Shakespeare, The Critical Heritage. Vol. 6. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
Scott, Mark W. (Editor). Shakespeare for Students. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 1992
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The play “Macbeth”, by Shakespeare, contains many motifs. Two very powerful motifs that Shakespeare illustrates in this play are blood, and weather. Blood is important because it shows that this play is violent, and the blood physically shows that these characters in the play are warriors. Weather plays an important role because it usually foreshadows events that are about to take place. For example, a storm usually foreshadows terrible things, like death and destruction. A major motif in “Macbeth” is blood.... [tags: weather, blood, William Shakespeare, guilt]
1016 words (2.9 pages)
- Role of Motifs in Shakespeare's Macbeth The best way to draw a reader into a story is to focus on knowledge drawn from other sources and add to them in a way so that the reader can relate. William Shakespeare achieves just this with his ability to enhance Macbeth with reoccurring motifs throughout the play. Possibly the most prominent ones and those that represent the greatest are the sleep and serpent motifs. J When one possesses a conscience, the function to tell the difference between right and wrong; it impedes the ability to either make positive or negative decisions.... [tags: William Shakespeare Macbeth]
1253 words (3.6 pages)
- Ambition is frequently seen as desirable - it provides purpose, motivation to work hard, and a goal to strive towards. Yet it also has a dangerous side, when it becomes too great and out of control. Although ambition is often positive, an excess of it can have detrimental effects. This unrestrained ambition is predominant in the tragedy Macbeth. In this play, Shakespeare employs the use of hallucination, blood, and prophecy motifs to emphasize the theme of ambition, which, when goes unchecked by moral constraints, wreaks destruction upon an individual.... [tags: Macbeth, Duncan I of Scotland, Macbeth]
1035 words (3 pages)
- The tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare has many different motifs during the store. The most common motifs in the play are blood, sleep, vision, and supernatural. There are many grim moments in play that foreshadow the horridness that macbeth and lady macbeth have done. Although there are many motifs used in Macbeth the four main one are blood, sleep, vision, and supernatural. The blood motif shows the consequences of the guilty characters. One example is when Macbeth killed King Duncan, and walked out of the room very distraught and in a haze of panic and sorrow.... [tags: Macbeth, Banquo, Macbeth, Macbeth]
1243 words (3.6 pages)
- In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist chooses to forgo civic responsibility in order to act upon his true desire of having power. This conflict not only provides for the majority of the plot, it provides Macbeth with depth of character and makes him far more relatable for the audience, and ultimately gives the work greater credibility as a tragedy by allowing the audience to empathize with the protagonist. Macbeth, over the course of the play, fails to balance his loyalty to king and country with his desire for the crown.... [tags: Macbeth, Duncan I of Scotland, William Shakespeare]
1309 words (3.7 pages)
- Throughout Shakespeare’s play, “Macbeth”, Shakespeare uses various items to enhance his plot. He used many symbols, motifs, themes, and excellent character development. His development of certain characters had a major impact in “Macbeth”, by changing roles of characters he essentially changed the plot all together. The symbols that he used were there to enhance the play, and show what the protagonists were thinking or seeing. The themes he used were diverse yet they were used to show what certain scenes were all about.... [tags: Macbeth, Tragedy, Character, Protagonist]
923 words (2.6 pages)
- Motifs in The Tragedy of Macbeth The Tragedy of Macbeth , by William Shakespeare, shows the slow deterioration of Macbeth who was once a brave, loyal soldier to an ambitious man with no sense of reality, In this tragic play, the most commonly used motifs are hallucinations, blood, violence, nature and unnatural, fair and foul. These motifs are used to represent the characters emotions, personalities, and appearances throughout the entire play of The Tragedy of Macbeth. Hallucinations are used in The Tragedy of Macbeth to portray the insanity that has overcome of Macbeth and lady Macbeth.... [tags: Macbeth, Duncan I of Scotland]
2131 words (6.1 pages)
- Blood as an Image of Honor, Betrayal and Guilt in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Blood is usually interpreted as a sign of horror and wrongdoing; however, in the play Macbeth, Shakespeare associates blood with a variety of atmospheres. Blood imagery begins with the fight against one traitor, the Thane of Cawdor, and ends with the death of another, Macbeth. Although the uses of blood produce different effects, both are used to symbolize death. Shakespeare generates other blood imagery throughout the play to create impressions of honor, betrayal and guilt.... [tags: Papers]
422 words (1.2 pages)
- Shakespeare is one of the greatest literary minds to come across history. A huge contribution to his success was his use of themes in his plays and how they transcended amongst his other works while to relating to people’s lives. What exactly is a theme. The theme of a play is the underpinning issue or idea that propels and sustains the play. They can also be known as underlying motifs that give shape, pattern and significance to a play. This can be achieved in one of a few ways. First is through language.... [tags: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Marriage]
1508 words (4.3 pages)
- William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is filled with many vivid and recurring images. Such imagery permeates the text and provides strong striking images which, when performed on stage, stay firmly in the audiences’ minds. Many critics have proposed arguments expressing their opinion on what constitutes the central image in Macbeth. On reading the text, or perhaps watching the play, some of the images are more prominent than others. Images such as blood and darkness seem to hold most significance to the plot and to the themes.... [tags: William Shakespeare]
2350 words (6.7 pages)