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Blood as an Image of Honor, Betrayal and Guilt in Macbeth.

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Introduction

Elaine Purcell 11/24/02 Macbeth Essay Blood as an Image of Honor, Betrayal and Guilt 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. Shakespeare begins the play using the image of blood to symbolize honor and victory. ...read more.

Middle

This blood gives Macbeth a new title and respect. Shakespeare has blood, a customary sign of death and conflict, create an atmosphere of honor and success. Contrary to a representation of honor, Shakespeare creates images of blood to symbolize betrayal. Blood on the dagger Macbeth uses to kill Duncan represents the treachery to the king. Lady Macbeth betrays the truth of the murder with the intentions of framing the attendants "Carry [the daggers] and smear / the sleepy grooms with blood" (2.2.63-64). Another example of blood as a symbol of betrayal is the second apparition. Shakespeare uses a bloody baby to represent the witches' betrayal of Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although she consciously discards her guilt, in her sleep she envisions the blood of Duncan; "Out, damned spot, out, I say! [...] / Yet who would have thought the old man / to have had so much blood in him?" (5.1.37-42). Her subconscious guilt causes her to hallucinate and eventually kill herself. Blood is most commonly used to represent a tragic death or injury; however, Shakespeare contrarily has it signify honor. Differing from honor, he also has blood symbolize betrayal and guilt. Macbeth feels guilt regarding the murders as manifested by hallucinations and his inability to pray. Lady Macbeth demonstrates that she lacks guilt, although in her sleep she loses sanity which eventually leads her to her death. Shakespeare's alternative approach to the image of blood creates diversity in the motifs of honor, betrayal and guilt. ...read more.

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