Essay Example on The Ubiquity of Blood in The Tragedy of Macbeth Blood








Treachery Ambition and Guilt The Ubiquity of Blood in The Tragedy of Macbeth Blood is necessary for the sustenance of life it perfuses every cell in our body yet the spilling of blood is associated with demise In William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth Shakespeare employs blood as a conduit to signify the act of treachery characteristic of ambition and the emotion of guilt Treachery is connected with the motif of blood Macbeth betrays the crown and commits regicide Macbeth is determined to achieve his ultimate goal to become King and will yield at nothing in order to attain success His ambition however overrides common sense resulting in grave and gruesome repercussions In the play it is pellucid that guilt consumes characters consciences Shakespeare s ingenious employment of blood expands its significance to represent a myriad of themes including treachery ambition and guilt A treacherous mood is induced at the beginning of the play through bloodshed Macbeth encounters the three witches whose eccentricity accompanies their eeriness They are considered to be servers of fate who reveal Macbeth s abstruse future that he will become King Shakespeare makes it clear that King Duncan may be too trustworthy of Macbeth for he over values his courage and loyalty However the witches prophesies ignite deleterious intentions in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to commit regicide against King Duncan Lady Macbeth sets this nefarious plan in motion asking the spirits to make thick my blood 1 5 47

She pleads for the strength to engage in the dastardly act of cold blooded murder to be ruthless and unrelenting in the implementation of their scheme Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are acutely aware of the fact that their lives are in danger if they are caught with the blood stained murder weapon they will be executed To divert the suspicions Lady Macbeth orders Macbeth to smear the sleepy grooms with blood so that the guards will be deemed guilty 2 2 48 49 This intense imagery is vital in illustrating blood as a symbol of treachery by using blood as a decoy The tragic hero Macbeth suffers from a rampant ambition and rapacity for power which is his fatal flaw Macbeth states My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical Shakes so my single state of man that function is smothered in surmise and nothing is But what is not 1 3 139 142 This quote signifies an important introduction to bloodshed which continuous to permeate through the play resulting in the personification of blood whereby creating a significant character Als 106 Even though it is in its fantastical stage Macbeth is so focused on this murder that it has consumed his life and transformed him into someone unrecognizable Lady Macbeth has uncovered Macbeth s murderous ardor which is repeatedly demonstrated when he goes on to kill Macduff s family and Banquo As stated in Hilton Als article reviewing the theater production Unsexed Blood punctuates so many of the melancholy twisted events 106

Macbeth s dreadful ambition is in direct correlation to the blood that was spilled during the regicide Blood is commonly associated with guilt in the play Lady Macbeth s and Macbeth s hands are permanently stained with the guilt of their past The murder dramatically alters their lives for the worst and the blood is symbolic of their shame After Macbeth murders King Duncan he realizes the iniquity of his crime and he attempts to wash the blood from his hands saying 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 2 2 59 62 Neptune s ocean symbolizes the amount of power necessary to rid him of his guilt In washing his hands Macbeth hopes to eradicate all traces of the tragedy However his crime stains him in a way that cannot be washed off or forgotten leading to eternal fear within Macbeth and Lady Macbeth As the play progresses their blood stained hands become an ensuing issue As mentioned in the apotheosis of the play Macbeth states It will have blood they say blood will have blood Stones have been known to move and trees to speak 3 4 123 125 There is no escaping the consequences of Macbeth s and Lady Macbeth s actions and the deceased will have their vengeance Macbeth understands that he must hide his guilt he states And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond 3 2 48 50 Bloody and invisible hand represents Macbeth attempting to conceal his agony Simultaneously the regicide exposes Lady Macbeth s vulnerability The article in The New Yorker argues that Lady Macbeth has a guilty conscience and is no longer sane Als 106 This is evident in the beginning of Act V when she hallucinates and dreams about blood Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking it is concluded that she is mentally unstable however not physically ill

This is a prime example of how blood and guilt are linked since her guilt ridden conscience is actively expressing her sorrowful culpability and remorse Blood embodies infidelity yearning and regret by virtue of Shakespeare s conscientious application of this motif Even though Shakespeare introduces numerous motifs throughout the play blood is by far one of the most interpretational and meaningful Blood is incredibly significant it symbolizes treachery ambition and guilt Due to Shakespeare s intensively intricate writing one can easily visualize blood as having a negative connotation Treachery relates to the killing of the King where the blood spilled represents betrayal Ambition the intriguing theme throughout Macbeth helps to expand the fabric of the play by compelling Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to murder While secret guilt drowns the Macbeths in paranoia Shakespeare augments the implications of blood establishing this motif as a symbol for treason aspiration and remorse

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