"Macbeth" by William Shakespeare

Essay by amybeeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 2004

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Throughout Macbeth William Shakespeare uses many symbols to highlight major themes in the play. One of these symbols is blood, and the theme that it reinforces is murder and the fear associated with killing. Many scenes in the play involving murder also have blood mentioned, although not necessarily during the act itself. The use of blood as a symbol is very important when connected to the theme of murder, and is used as a foreshadowing device as well.

The first time Shakespeare uses blood as a symbol takes place in Act II Scene II, when Macbeth is going to kill Duncan. He imagines a bloody dagger in front of him, pointing towards Duncan's room in his castle. As Macbeth describes it, "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before...It is the bloody business which now informs thus to mine eyes." (Act II, Scene II, 55-58) The blood in this scene foreshadows that Macbeth is about to kill Duncan.

It also shows his fear about killing Duncan, because his mind is playing tricks on him. He is developing a guilty conscience although he has not yet committed the murder.

Another use of blood as a symbol occurs during the feast at Macbeth's castle after he has been crowned king and had Banquo killed. Macbeth imagines the bloody ghost of Banquo sitting in his spot at the table. He says, "Never shake thy gory locks at me." (Act III, Scene IV, 64-65) This describes the blood on the ghost. Lady Macbeth also mentions the "air-drawn dagger" that Macbeth saw before killing Duncan. Macbeth's fear and guilty conscience from his killings is rising steadily. While he is killing for his own purposes, he does not realize how much it is hurting him mentally. His images...