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Consider the ways in which the recurring imagery within 'Macbeth' adds to the power of the play

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Yr 10 coursework essay Consider the ways in which the recurring imagery within 'Macbeth' adds to the power of the play Imagery consists of the use of symbols or key words to convey an idea or create a specific atmosphere. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses these strands of imagery mainly as a method of enlivening and enriching the text but also as tools to demonstrate the sorrow of Scotland and the people's loss of pride in their country and often tailors certain strands to a particular character and acts as a commentary as the audience follows their route throughout the play. Shakespeare also uses it to symbolise the premonition of events. This would have been very powerful to an Elizabethan audience of the time as they would have responded to the dramatic tension and would have been acutely sensitive to the subtle nuances lost to an audience of today, and would have boosted the overall effect of the play. As no advanced visual aids or special effects were available to emphasize the points made within the play, the recurring imagery helps to paint a picture of the ideas conveyed, in the minds of the audience it also reinforces and strengthens them. Macbeth is a play tainted with darkness; a story of a powerful but flawed character in which the presence of evil forces tempt his ambition and plant the seeds, which lead to his own destruction. Shakespeare uses the supernatural as theme, which permeates throughout the whole play and provides much of the play's dilemmas and suspense. ...read more.


"Why do you dress me In borrow'd robes?" The image then constantly reoccurs and it seems that Macbeth's new honours sit untidily upon him, like loose and badly fitting garments that belonging to someone else. "New honours come upon him, Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould, But with the aid of use." Banquo again points out that Macbeth's new title of the Thane of Cawdor, feels incongruous at the moment but will feel more comfortable after the wear of them. He talks about Macbeth being 'rapt in thought', a pun intending to mean the same as being 'wrapped' or 'enveloped in'. Macbeth is indeed in deep thought and at the thought of Lady Macbeth's plan tells her he will not murder Duncan. In his change of heart, he says the King has bestowed upon him 'new honours' and he wants to 'wear' these new titles and be 'dressed' in the good opinions of other people. Lady Macbeth uses her feminine persuasiveness and sturdy courage to turn Macbeth around again. After the night of the deed, Macbeth is mortified by what he has committed and reels off his encounter with the two grooms in the chamber. He becomes very disturbed at the fact that he could not pronounce 'Amen' when one of the sleepy guards cried 'God bless us!' and that in the distance he thought a voice cried 'Sleep no more; Macbeth does murder sleep'. In this passage, Shakespeare links the natural innocent process of sleep to knitting up a frayed garment or sleeve, with the image of Macbeth ripping or tearing this apart with this foul deed. ...read more.


The water is a pure cleansing image that will not wash a sinful deed from the criminal's hands. Act 5 Scene 9, just before the ending of the play, Macbeth has Macduff at his mercy, and lets him go, because of his guilt. His feelings of guilt shine through. "But get thee back, my soul is too much charg'd With blood of thine already." Of which, Macduff replies; "I have no words, My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain Than terms can give thee out." After the death of Macbeth at the hands of Macduff, the imagery of blood swings back to what it was at the beginning of the play and completes the circle. But, it is the honour of Malcolm this time. The death of the tyrant is an honoured achievement that they congratulate Macduff for and celebrate greatly. The seamless connections between imagery and symbolism within this play, has lost none of its potency and ability to provide deeper even more philosophical meanings since the day it was written. Many of the strands operate on different levels and challenge the mind to see finer details of the image. This may have been particularly useful to the Shakespearian audience sitting under the shadow of the stage, as key words could strike at places in the mind to conjure up poignant manifestations, which would enable the cheaper seat paying audience to follow along without the aid of actors. It is important in terms of symbols to remember the Christian and Biblical context in which William Shakespeare wrote this play. ...read more.

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