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Macbeth - Explore the use of this imagery and comment on its relevance to the themes of the play and the dramatic presentation of characters and settings.

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Macbeth is a play densely packed with imagery. Images of blood, sleep, disease, darkness, animals and clothing abound. Explore the use of this imagery and comment on its relevance to the themes of the play and the dramatic presentation of characters and settings. Imagery in Macbeth can be categorised into different groups, representing the different recurring themes such as disguise and guilt. The use of imagery can imply various meanings, which help the audience to better understand the characters and their roles. Shakespeare suggests ideas about the behaviour of man using imagery, and also conveys simple messages such as the triumph of good over evil. The tangle between darkness and light throughout the play clearly represents the battle between good and evil. Eventually good conquers, in the slaughter of Macbeth, who; with Lady Macbeth and the witches, represent evil. Many of the most important negative events in the play take place under the cover of darkness, such as Duncan and Banquo's murders, Macbeth's visits to the witches and Lady Macbeth's illness. There are many contrasts between the evil and good aspects of the play e.g. Macbeth is an evil king: Duncan is a good king. Lady Macbeth allows herself to be easily swayed by the predictions of the witches; the suggestion of Macbeth being king pleases her, although she knows he does not have the courage to proactively seek his goal. ...read more.


Sleep is an important feature in the play because it represents peace, or lack of knowledge. Neither Lady Macbeth nor Macbeth find any refuge in sleep after they kill Duncan, because they have committed an evil act. Macbeth wishes he were Duncan after his murder, perhaps because he wishes he had not received the knowledge or prophecies from the witches, and regrets murdering Duncan. When Macbeth kills Duncan, he imagines a voice saying "Sleep no more: Macbeth hath murdered sleep" Line thirty-eight, Act two, Scene two. Macbeth has murdered an innocent soul and hence shall never be at peace; he is hounded by torment and guilt and begins to drive himself mad. Lady Macbeth also discovers she may find no peace either. Towards her demise, the doctor says, "A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching". Line eight, Act five, Scene one. Duncan's death is a disturbance in nature; the breaking of the chain of being and disruption of divine choosing has caused Lady Macbeth to never receive the benefit of sleep, or to be at peace. The Macebth's lack of sleep or peace shows the audience the consequences of their actions, and that their' actions have not in fact benefited them. ...read more.


The characters which represent good are more wary of their new titles, and appear to seem more comfortable in roles they deserve, as opposed to those which fall upon them because of deaths. The appearance of the characters opposes reality. Imagery of sickness and disease in the play denote the demise of Scotland under Macbeth's reign. Macbeth has ruled badly, and many of the characters refer to the wounds he inflicts upon it. "It weeps, it bleeds, each day a new gash is added to her wounds." Malcolm, who is associated with health and growth, rather than sickness and harm like Macbeth, finally cure the country of "the evil" a common name for tuberculosis, a debilitating, excruciating disease, which he sees as having a grip over Scotland. Macbeth has the capability to kill Duncan, but without the desire engendered within him, would have lacked the courage to carry out the deed. The witches influence him, but it is difficult to say whether; without their encouragement, he would have had any motive. If the audience were to read or watch the play, and ignore all imagery, the play would still make sense. However, the meanings and representation inferred by the imagery Shakespeare has used, allows more to be understood about the play, and the time in which it was written. For instance slang names for illnesses such as tuberculosis, and strong religious beliefs such as the belief in the divine right of kings. ...read more.

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