Use of Blood in Macbeth

Use of Blood in Macbeth

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The use of imagery and “blood” in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.


Imagery is the use of symbols to convey an idea or to create a specific atmosphere for the audience. Shakespeare uses imagery in Macbeth often, the most prevalent one, is blood. I believe he uses this as a way to convey guilt, murder, betrayal, treachery and evil, and to symbolize forewarning of events.
In the beginning of this play blood resembles honor, bravery, and maybe even victory. Macbeth's blood saturated sword after the war portrays him as a brave hero because of the enemy he killed. He is known as "Brave Macbeth" to everyone including Duncan, the King. His bravery is rewarded by the title of Thane of Cawdor, with the help of the current one being executed for treason. I feel that the word blood at the beginning of this play earns Macbeth’s respect from not only the characters, but also the audience.
After the first murder scene, when Macbeth stabs King Duncan in his sleep, he encounters a great deal of guilt towards the murder. This is shown by a quote from Macbeth, "With all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas in carnadine, making the green one red", at this point in the play, blood is resembled mostly by guilt. What Macbeth is really saying is that not even the entire ocean could wash his hands clean of blood from this dirty deed he had committed. He feels that what he had done was so wrong and shameful there is not a way in the world to hide it, the ocean is an excellent way to portray this. After the discovery of Duncan’s murder in the third scene, Macbeth exaggerates the king’s wounds," His silver skin lac’d with his golden blood, and gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature..." Macbeth most likely said this to drive away any thought of him being the murderer. The word "golden" resembles the King’s blood, referring to his social status not only as a King, but as a well liked member of society. The word “blood,” produces a dreadful description of the king’s murder which aids the audience in picturing this horrific murder scene.
     Blood is also used to display the guilt in Lady Macbeth near the end of the play. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth is the one who tries to keep Macbeth sane and to keep from breaking.

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She tells him that he is a man and things around that nature to try and help him stay in control of himself. Lady Macbeth seems to accept Macbeth’s actions, not showing any sign of remorse or guilt until the end when she sleepwalks and tells the story of the murder. She reveals her guilt by stating, "What, will these hands never be clean, Here's the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten this little hand."
     The imagery of blood is used in two different ways, good and evil. In the beginning of the play blood is shown as honor and bravery and towards the end it is shown as guilt and remorse. Macbeth believes what he heard from the weird sisters to be true and acts on this, which I believe helps change the meaning of blood in this play too. William Shakespeare uses imagery very well in "Macbeth," Blood being one of the most important in not only the beginning, but the end of the play also.
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