Blood Imagery in Macbeth Essay
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Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a story taken from Scottish history and presented to the Scottish king James I. Shakespeare took this gory tale of murderous ambition, however, and transformed it into an imaginative tale of good and evil. Shakespeare brought about this transformation by relying upon “imaginative verbal vigor” that imbeds itself in the brilliantly concentrated phrases of this literary work. Critics have dubbed it his darkest work, along with King Lear. In his critique of Shakespeare’s works and plays, Charles Haines describes Macbeth as “one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, containing just 2,108 lines.” He further states that it is a vigorous, headlong drama, a relentless spectacle in red and black. (Haines, p. 105) This red and…show more content…
The use of blood imagery also allows the audience to imagine the true gruesomeness of King Duncan’s murder. In Act II of Macbeth, the soliloquy describes how Macbeth plans to murder the king. He describes in detail what he will see. “ I see thee still, and on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before.” (Act II, Scene 5. Line1) The dudgeon of a dagger is the hilt of the dagger (123helpme.com, pg. 1) Therefore; Macbeth is describing a sharp dagger, covered in thick blood from its tip to the hilt. One can easily visualize the crime scene and the victim’s body after such a dagger has been plunged into it several times. These deep wounds, the length of said dagger, become the points from which King Duncan’s lifeblood will spill. This particular description relies on its imagery to reveal the transition from honor to that of pure evil and treachery. No good intent, honor, or victory can attach to such a vile act. Blood imagery now intensifies an atmosphere that is thoroughly evil. It exposes the evil plans and actions that have come to dominate the characters of Macbeth and his lady. Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to “ make thick my blood.” (Act I, Scene 5, line. 50) She is asking the spirits to leave her” remorseless and insensitive about the murders she and Macbeth will soon commit. To feel insensitive to such treachery would expose a heart of pure evil.
Blood Imagery In William Shakespeare's Macbeth
William Shakespeare wrote the Tragedy of Macbeth in approximately 1606 AD. He loosely based it on a historical event occurring around 1050 AD. Macbeth is the story of a nobleman, who, while trying to fulfill a prophecy told to him by three witches, murders his King to cause his ascension to the throne of Scotland. After the King's murder, Macbeth reigns as a cruel and ruthless tyrant, who is forced to kill more people to keep control of the throne. Finally, Scottish rebels combined with English forces attack Macbeth's castle, and Macbeth is killed by a Scottish Thane named Macduff who has sacrificed everything to see peace return to Scotland.
In the play, the word "blood" is mentioned numerous times. Shakespeare's use of this particular word is significant; he uses it to develop the character of Macbeth and the unfolding events of the drama. The powerful symbolic meaning of blood changes from the beginning to the end.
Near the beginning of the play, after Macbeth and the Scottish army defeated the rebel Macdonwald's army, a bleeding sergeant comes on stage. The sergeant then proceeds to describe the battle and how bravely Macbeth and his friend Banquo fought, "For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name- / Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel / Which smok'd with bloody execution, / Like valor's minion carv'd out his passage..." (Act I, Scene 2, Lines 19-21)
Blood is symbolic of bravery and courage in this passage. Blood shed for a noble cause is good blood. However, Macbeth's character changes throughout the play are characterized by the symbolism in the blood he sheds.
Before Duncan's murder, Macbeth imagines seeing a dagger floating in the air before him. He describes it, "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, / Which was not so before. There's no such thing: / It is the bloody business which informs / Thus to mine eyes."
The blood imagery in this passage obviously refers to treason, ambition, and murder. This is a stark contrast to what blood meant earlier in the play. Blood, once seen as a positive value, is now associated with evil. This imagery also shows the beginning of Macbeth's character transformation from a personage of nobility, honesty, and bravery to that of treachery, deceit, and evil.
After Macbeth murders Duncan, he begins to realize the severity of his crime as he tries to wash Duncan's blood off his hands, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No; this hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red." (Act II, Scene 2, Lines 71-75)
This passage illustrates the act of murder has changed Macbeth's character. No longer does the blood...
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