Symbolism and Imagery in Macbeth

Essay by kaufeehausekittyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2004

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In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, symbolism and imagery are both widely used in illustrating the overall theme of murder. Throughout the play, Shakespeare depicts various types of symbolism and imagery that leads to the downfall of the protagonist, Macbeth. The contrast of light and dark representing good and evil plays a major role in the plot of the play. Blood symbolizes murder and guilt. The symbol of clothing is particularly used to suggest the hiding of ones true self is also widely used in order to achieve the general theme of evil. The image of animals also plays a large role in portraying evil as well.

One of the most prominent symbolic factors in the play is light and dark which represent good and evil. When Macbeth was written, the king was commonly associated with the sun. The sunset symbolized his death or him being overthrown. The quotes "When shall we three meet again..."

and "That will be ere the set of the sun." both foreshadow the king's death. This imagery of light and dark continues throughout the play. "Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my back and deep desires." This demonstrates Macbeth's first step towards evil. Most of the evil or more unusual scenes in Macbeth, for example the murders, Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene, and the appearances of the witches, all occur when it is dark outside. Lady Macbeth's sleep walking scene is the perfect example of the light and dark symbol. She once wanted darkness to hide herself, but she carried a candle so she contradicted herself. The line, "She has light by her continually; 'tis her command.", symbolizes Lady Macbeth's fear of darkness and or evil.

The image of blood also plays an important role in the play. From the first appearance of...