A Critical Analysis on the Imagery in Act II of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Essay by CryoKillSwitchHigh School, 12th grade September 2003

download word file, 5 pages 4.2

The piercing shriek of an owl, the howling of the wind, and daggers smeared in gouts of blood are all strong images. Besides creating a picture in one's mind, they also allow for the reader to probe deeper into the significance of a work of literature, as imagery is able to reveal atmosphere and thus in turn theme. Shakespeare is a master in his use of imagery in the play Macbeth, for the vividness of his images guide the reader into attaining a deeper insight into his major themes which are evil, guilt and remorse, and chaos and disorder. These themes are intertwined throughout the entire play, however for a thorough analysis of Shakespeare's imagery, it is sufficient to take a closer look at Act 2 of Macbeth.

Macbeth is a confused man, who falters in thought about whether or not to murder King Duncan. A question to ponder throughout the play is, 'whether or not Macbeth is an evil man?' It is justifiable to claim that he is not completely saintly for his thoughts reveal a murderous intention when he hallucinates that he sees a bloodstained dagger.

Macbeth questions, "Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The Handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee: I have thee not, and yet I see thee still"(Shakespeare Act 2 Scene 1 Lines 33-35). The dagger as a murder weapon is presented to the reader in Act 2 and it's image supports a sense of foreboding. The reader is destined to believe that the dagger may be used in a killing, as Macbeth pictures it dirtied by the act of murder. The protagonist speaks to the weapon and says, "I see thee still And on thy blade and dungeon gouts of blood"(Shakespeare Act 2 Scene 1...