Motif of Blood in Shakespeare's Macbeth

Motif of Blood in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Motif of Blood in Macbeth Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the motif of blood plays an important factor in the framework of the theme.  A motif is a methodical approach to uncover the true meaning of the play.  Macbeth, the main character in the play, thinks he can unjustly advance to the title of king without any variation of his honest self.  The blood on Macbeth’s hands illustrates the guilt he must carry after plotting against King Duncan and yearning for his crown.

            Shakespeare used the image of blood to portray the central idea of Macbeth, King Duncan’s murder.  The crime is foreshadowed in the second scene of the first act.  The king shouts, “ What bloody man is that?” (I,ii,1)  He is referring to a soldier coming in from battle.  The soldier then explains to King Duncan of Macbeth’s heroics in battle.  One assumes that Macbeth is bloody just like the soldier.  The soldier describes Macbeth in action “Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, / Which smoked with bloody execution.” (I,ii,17-18)  This line connects Macbeth with killing, and hints at the future.

            The evil deed of murdering the king becomes too much of a burden on the Macbeths.  The blood represents their crime, and they can not escape the sin of their actions.  Macbeth realizes that in time he would get what he deserves.  Since he can not ride himself of his guilt by washing the blood away, his fate may have been sealed.  They

 try to use water for vindication, but Macbeth says that all the water in the ocean could not cleanse his hands.  He imagines the blood from the murder staining the ocean red.  Lady

 Macbeth differs from her husband in this aspect.  She believes her conscience would be cleansed at the time her hands are physically cleaned.  She tells her husband to have the same beliefs as she or he would be driven to insanity.  Ironically, Lady Macbeth is the one that is driven to the brink of lunacy as she commits suicide at the end of the tragedy. 

 The image and scent of blood symbolizes the unending guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  The blood on their hands represents the inability to annul the murder from their memories.  While sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth was aggravated with own hands.  She was seen muttering, “Out damned spot! Out, I say!” (V,I,39)  This proves that her evil deed in still on her conscience.

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  The odor of the blood also has the same effect.  “Here’s the smell of blood still. / All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”( V, sc 1, 58-89)  Her imagination grows of dreadful pictures and she tries perfume to mask the aroma.

 The motif of blood in Macbeth plays a significant role.  It symbolizes the efforts the Macbeths go through to hide their horrid accomplishments.  They imagine the blood never leaves their hands, and the truth never leaves their minds.  The crime of murder carried a guilt that neither one could discharge.
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