Symbolism and Other Hidden Meanings in Macbeth


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The role of blood in Macbeth is full of symbolism and hidden meanings. The mental state of both Macbeth and lady Macbeth are both greatly deteriorated by the sight of blood. Multiple times throughout the play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would hallucinate and see blood on their hands, symbolising their guilt for the murders they have committed. The sight of blood triggers emotions in each of the two protagonists multiple times throughout the play. Lady Macbeth has a tendency to sleepwalk and the guilt of her part in the murder of king Duncan sparked an influx of these sleepwalking episodes. One night she was observed washing her hands in the middle of the night while sleepwalking. She would act as though she was washing something off her hands mumbling that the blood would not wash off. This is a big part of what got people suspicious to the guilt of the Macbeths.

As the play progressed what Macbeth does and what he sees shapes him and hardens him from a valiant hero, to a bloodthirsty tyrant. Much of this was caused by uncontrollable mental trauma following the murder of his cousin the king and later his best friend Banquo. ‘And with thy bloody and invisible hand. cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale!’ spoken by macbeth Act 3 Scene 2 .Macbeth is obligated to conceal his thoughts and feelings of guilt to prevent further suspicion among other characters.

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Oxymoron of ‘bloody and invisible hand’ also demonstrates a contrast between appearance versus reality by comparing guilt and innocence.Strong imagery of blood on Macbeth’s hand symbolises guilt by showing level of cruelty.‘Invisible hand’ is a representation of hiding the thoughts and feelings of guilt.

Macbeth sees apparitions of daggers reminding him of his Murder of Duncan, and even sees an apparition of Banquo sitting in his throne without anyone else being able to see. This Trauma is what tipped the rest of the kingdom off to Macbeth’s Tyranny along with his bitter turning attitude.

Lady Macbeth would many times defend her husbands outbursts of guilty trauma with the pressures and responsibility of being king. But in reality Lady Macbeth was having her own problems keeping her cool. Lady Macbeth although more subtle about it was in a rapidly declining mental state. Lady macbeth cast aside her womanly morals in order to gain power for her and her husband. What she found was that the act of murder was too much for even the hardened attitude of a man to bare if it was in cold blood. Lady Macbeth greatly affected Macbeth’s roles in each of the murders perhaps except The murder of Banquo and attempt on Fleance because she was not told. But Lady Macbeth was a crucial part in convincing Macbeth to Murder his cousin King Duncan in hopes for the crown and her position as queen. When asked to do the deed herself she replied that king duncan looked too much like her father and she would feel too guilty. For someone able to change her gender roles and opinions so fast she sure still knows how to use her womanly innocence. This is why I feel she was just manipulating Macbeth the whole time to get a position of hidden power as queen. Queens can have a lot of authority and a queen who is secretly controlling of her husband is in almost complete control. Lady macbeth did not account for two things, the loss of her husband’s mind from her constant nudge to evil acts and her own path of insanity as a result of her guilt from doing so.

“My hands are of your color but I am ashamed to wear a heart so white”. When lady Macbeth says this in act 5 she is showing incredible remorse for her action to the point of taking her own life. The apparitions of blood, the stain of guilt, with the constant throat that although she was not the one to thrust the dagger she was the main orcastraiter. She knows this does not excuse her and so her guilt ultimately leads to her end. Macbeth as a result of this is hardened and too far gone to really care about the passing of his wife in act 5. In Fact he exclaims that she should have picked a better time to die because right then was really inconvenient for him. By this time Macbeth has gone off the deep end and no longer values life and innocence the way he did at the beginning of the play. He has lost all his honor and has embraced the role of a powerful tyrant. He believed that he could not be killed by and mortal man because of the prophecies told by the witches to him. Macbeth was seduced with small gifts from the devil that in the end intrigued him too much and won over his trust completely. This led to his downfall. Macduff aka the loophole was born of ac section so technically he was not born normally from a woman. Because of this the prophecy is broken and he is able to defeat Macbeth and avenge his family in the end of the play. The ending of this pay speaks the trickery and deception of the devil and sends the message that the devil is not truthful and will only use you for the evil it was to ensue one the world.

The Effect of blood on the characters of Macbeth may be argued to be exaggerated but I see the role of blood a little differently When I was younger I used to try and act grown up by watching scary movies so one night I watched Hellboy with my family and this scene came up with these cannibal bugs who ate a few guys clean down to the bone It was mayfly season at the time and I know I don’t have any reason to be scared of them but for some reason it felt like every time I saw a swarm of them for at least a year I would be reminded of that scene and that night and I would get freaked out. I feel a bit of the same is happening with the blood. No matter the circumstance of the blood actually being there of blood just being imagined even has a great effect on the Macbeths.

The symbolism of blood in literature and culture relates to bonds and trust that one has with their own blood and the family members who share that of similar blood. The Blood shade of Duncan and Banquo was in cold blood highlighting the negative symbols of betrayal with a bloody dagger after the murder of Duncan. When Macbeth slays macdonald he slays him in a very gruesome fashion and the play goes into explaining this. I think this is because it is showing the audience the change in the savagery of Macbeth’s murders starting from a backstab to execution style killing. I believe this shows how emotionless Macbeth has become to taking another’s life and it is an adequate comparison on how Macbeth started the play verse how he is perceived at the end of it.

The play ends very abruptly after Macbeth’s death by the hands of Macduff. I believe this symbolises the release of Macbeth’s manipulation from the devil because of a quote said by him earlier in the play ¨Blood will have blood¨. I took this quote that n a sence killing will only lead to more killing and Macbeth’s behavior reflects that . The ending of the book and the cliffhangers I believe also support the idea that blood is not yet done being shed. After Macbeth’s death we are kept in the dark about the future of his kingdom. This could be because here was supposed to be a part two, but maybe because the play was trying to display the idea that you get what is coming to you. However you integrate the ending as a new beginning or the start of the end has a lot to do on how one perceives this quote.                     

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