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Imagery in MacBeth

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Imagery in MacBeth By Kyle Hoath Yr 11 Literature, 2003 A common strength found amongst all of Shakespeare's work is the effective use of imagery. In MacBeth a wide variety of similes, metaphors, symbols and descriptive language have contributed to the realism of the text. Imagery is the use of descriptive expressions, such as similes, metaphors and symbols, to enhance the picture a reader builds in their mind. Yet the use of imagery can be interpreted differently according to any reader's context, hence opportunities for multiple readings can be found throughout the text. Also the varying levels of imagery from older to more modern texts influence how an audience from this generation may react to the imagery of MacBeth. Imagery is a technique used to create an image in the mind of a reader. The image is created through use of descriptive language, similes, metaphors and symbols. Shakespeare is well known for making effective use of similes and metaphors. The simile; "Death lies upon her like an untimely frost." and the metaphor; "Juliet is the sun." are examples of imagery from the well known Shakespearean text, Romeo and Juliet. Good use of Imagery adds to the depth of a character and creates comparisons that an audience can relate to. ...read more.


"The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me In borrow'd robes?" I.III.107 It is however most strongly represented in the final act when Angus speaks what is on everyone's mind, changing the notion of "borrowed" to "stolen". "... now does he feel his title Hang loose about him like a giant's robe Upon a dwarfish thief." V.II.20 Not only is this a symbol of MacBeth's unjust actions, but it has also been written as a simile, giving credit to the effect of well used imagery in Shakespeare's MacBeth. The imagery Shakespeare has used in MacBeth not only adds to its creative plot, but also pulls the audience into relating with the characters. The extensive use of metaphors allows the audience to draw parallel's between their own experiences and the text. The unique aspect of MacBeth is that it takes one more step from realism and creates a kind of 'over dramatic' realism. Freud wrote that MacBeth was a "dreamlike representation of Elizabeth I presumed guilt over the execution of Mary, Queen of Scotts." Even if this was an influential event in the writing of MacBeth, I do believe that Shakespeare was merely creating an entertaining form of dramatic realism. This would have been something new to the audience's of Shakespeare's plays. ...read more.


For this reason modern writers are more inclined to make that choice for the audience. When we watch Star Wars we know Luke is the protagonist and Darth Vader the antagonist. But when we read MacBeth we are unsure of which MacBeth is. A modern interpretation of the story of MacBeth would show MacBeth killing Duncan for unjust reasons, and the audience would be able to clearly perceive MacBeth as the antagonist. So Shakespeare has done something that has been very rarely duplicated. He has written a play where after the conclusion of the play there are still open arguments left for the individual to answer. MacBeth may have been the third shortest play written by Shakespeare, but it set new standards for dramatic texts and has since influenced the entire concept of drama. Shakespeare's use of imagery in the text set it apart from other dramas and it is constantly used as a reference tool for analysing Shakespeare's imagery techniques. It may just be that modern audiences cannot comprehend the depth of MacBeth and its dramatic characterisations, or that they have forgotten how to think whist reading a text. Either way, with its enhanced meaning due to predominant use of imagery, MacBeth is clearly one of Shakespeare's greatest pieces. ...read more.

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