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Comparison of the use of Blood and Sleep in Shakespeares Macbeth

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Introduction

Comparison of Blood and Sleep In "Macbeth", the images and themes of blood and sleep are constantly mentioned throughout the play, particularly in Act 2 Scene 2 and in Act 5 Scene 1. The reason for which Shakespeare decided to write the play in this manner was in order to create a symbolic importance of these two motifs. Blood is generally used to represent death, injury and guilt in the play. An effective instance of this is when Lady Macbeth says "I'll gild the faces of the grooms." To gild means to paint with gold, and in heraldry, red and gold are often regarded as equal colours, and so in this case, Lady Macbeth says that she will cover the grooms' faces with blood. This is intended to be a play on words, associating the word "gild" with "guilt", which then causes the theme of blood to represent guilt. The image of sleep is employed to symbolise conscience. Sleep is known to rest the mind and allow it to function properly. "Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast. ...read more.

Middle

In Act 2 Scene 2, Macbeth labels sleep as "The innocent sleep". Macbeth has however, murdered Duncan, and in doing so, he has lost his innocence, and therefore his sleep is interrupted with nightmares and disturbances, created by his guilty conscience. Before killing Duncan, Macbeth sees the imaginary image of the dagger in front of him. When he is in Duncan's chamber, he hears his conscience warning him of his evil act. "Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house. Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more. Lady Macbeth is also warned of the trouble to arise as a result of the murder. She goes to kill him, but she loses her nerve at the sight of Duncan, who apparently resembles her father as he sleeps. Because of this, she withdraws and sends Macbeth to do her evil act instead. However, the murder is still on her conscience, and so Lady Macbeth's sleep is not natural, but forced. In Act 5 Scene 1, while Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking, she highlights the fact that her hands smell like blood. This is most likely in her imagination, as she is unable to rid herself of the shame of Duncan's assassination. ...read more.

Conclusion

"For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name- Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution," This quote extremely successfully illustrates Macbeth's brutality, and ties him in with the idea of killing, which then foretells the audience of the assassination which he is soon going to carry out. The audience, at the time that the play was written, would have been very sensitive to subtle hints of this sort. They would have realised that Macbeth had some evil in him. Act 5 Scene 8 shows very clearly that Macbeth is feeling guilty about his murders. Before fighting Macduff, Macbeth expresses his guilt, but also expresses the fact that he is not afraid of Macduff, at the same time. Macbeth tells Macduff not to fight, because Macbeth does not wish to murder yet another Macduff. "Of all men else I have avoided thee. But get thee back; my soul is too much charg'd With blood of thine already." When Macbeth openly admits that he has had Macduff's family brutally murdered, he is showing the audience that he has remorse for what he has done, making another reference to the image of blood, in order to add in a metaphor, which communicates his guilt with great effect. ?? ?? ?? ?? Shaaz Farid IV W 14/10/2004 ...read more.

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