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Blood Imagery in The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Blood Imagery in The Tragedy of Macbeth Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth is a story of power and destruction. The two main characters, Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, are driven by ambition to commit evil actions. Lady Macbeth, a more ambitious person than her husband plots to have her husband murder the king of Scotland so that he can take the throne. Macbeth commits more murders to protect his throne, all the while becoming sick with guilt and paranoia. The guilt that engulfs him and his wife lead to their eventual madness. Blood appears everywhere throughout the work and symbolizes many things. In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare creates a sinister mood with blood imagery, which creates suspense and helps to resolve the story. Shakespeare uses blood imagery in Act One of Macbeth to create suspense. The opening battle of the story, between Scotland and the Norwegian invaders uses blood imagery to symbolize honor and bravery. Blood symbolizes bravery because the blood spilled is the blood of traitors and not noble men. 'Show'd like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak -- For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish'd steel, Which smok'd with bloody execution.' ...read more.


Shakespeare uses blood imagery to also symbolize life. As Macbeth pretends to see Duncan's dead body for the first time, he says 'The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood is stopp'd, the very source of it is stopped.' Blood imagery in Act Two focuses on the death of Duncan, as it continues to plague Macbeth and his wife. In Act Three blood imagery is used to create suspense. The murders Macbeth is responsible for continue to plague his conscience. He orders the murder of Banquo and becomes more consumed by remorse and paranoia. When the men Macbeth ordered to kill Banquo return, the blood on one of their faces symbolizes his guilt. 'There's blood upon thy face.' This does not, however, rid Macbeth of the culpability he feels for ordering the murder. Macbeth, while at a feast, sees the ghost of Banquo. He tries to defend himself to the guilt inspired vision 'Thou canst not say I did it, never shake thy gory locks at me.' Macbeth dives deeper into guilt enthused madness. Macbeth attempts to justify his murderous actions by claiming that they were done all the time in the olden time. 'Blood hath been shed ere now, i' th' olden time, ere humane statue purg'd the gentle weal -- aye, and since too, murthers have been perform'd.' ...read more.


Lady Macbeth sees the blood of Duncan on her hands, and is unable to remove it. This symbolizes her inability to discard the guilt she feels for the murder. 'Out, damned spot -- out, I say . . . who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?' As Macbeth faces Macduff in battle, he feels a toll on his conscience. 'Of all men else I have avoided thee. But get thee back, my soul is too much charg'd with blood of thine already.' This illustrates Macbeth's remorse and regret for having murdered Macduff's family. Macduff murders Macbeth, ending his murderous journey with his murder. This helps to resolve the story. In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare creates a sinister mood with blood imagery, which creates suspense and helps to resolve the story. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth go insane with the guilt over the murderous mission for power. Ambition led to their destruction when they became greedy and violent. The couple, in their destructive power, created their own torment, where they are plagued by guilt and insanity. Blood was a consistent symbol of the guilt felt by Macbeth and his wife. They saw it stained on their hands, and smelled it on their skin. The blood, along with the guilt could not be erased from their hands. Destruction falls upon the too ambitious. ...read more.

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