Symbolism In "Macbeth" Essay

1748 words - 7 pages

"Macbeth", William ShakespeareExamine the role of symbolism in the playIn the tragedy of "Macbeth", William Shakespeare's use of symbolism is abundant. Symbolism and imagery are constantly present to emphasise and/or illustrate a point and add to the themes of the play. Things such as blood, clothes, light and darkness are repeatedly used to portray deeper emotions or circumstances not literally or clearly expressed verbally by the characters themselves.Throughout the play, blood is often present or mentioned in several scenes. It most commonly symbolizes guilt. Macbeth's hands full of blood represent what he has done, which he cannot deal with, being overcome with guilt. Similarly, water ...view middle of the document...

Blood also symbolises the circumstances Macbeth has put himself under and where he has taken himself. All the murders he carries out after Duncan, Scotland being a country full of corruption and a system maintained by fear and violence, all these are represented by blood in the following line:"I am in bloodStepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,Returning were as tedious as go o'er." Act Three Scene IVShakespeare's use of light and darkness to symbolize good and evil is very obvious and effective throughout the whole play. Since scenes often take place at night as well as at day time, it can be easily appreciated that evil deeds are more commonly performed during dark hours. This association with darkness and evil is simply due to the fact that all murders occur at night, as well as the witches' meetings. In the play, darkness is used to hide evil deeds, which keeps them from being seen and realised by others. Light, therefore, symbolizes honesty and loyalty, associated with goodness. This is due to the fact that light offers a transparency where actions are seen by everyone. In the following line, Macbeth himself recognises that his desires are "black and deep", only fitting in the darkest night:"Let not light see my black and deep desires." Act One Scene IVIn the play, before Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth calls for darkness in order to be able to carry out "the deed". However, ironically, later on in the play, as she is sleepwalking, she continually carries a light with her. This suggests that after doing evil and stepping in it, she realizes this is not what she wanted and carries a light to somehow save herself from it and go back to where she was before darkness caught her. This is a reflection of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's unhappiness once they are in power. Even though this was their dream, they realize it was not worth it and are not at all happier than before.The witches, popular characters in the play, represent the unnatural and dark powers. Shakespeare uses the influence of the witches upon Macbeth to suggest that dark forces have the capacity to influence men's decisions. The witches are also an outward representation of Macbeth's inner evil and the darkness in his heart. During the play, even towards the end, the audience is capable of sympathising with Macbeth due to his manifestations of moral scruples, guilt and awareness. Considering Macbeth is not an evil natured character, this would suggest that even "good" men can become driven by ambition and take actions such as Macbeth's, ending up similarly.In "Macbeth", sleep illustrates innocence, being natural and healing. This is mostly brought across after Duncan's murder. The fact that Duncan was asleep as he was murdered emphasises this point. Duncan was therefore killed in a state of innocence and inoffensiveness, which tortures Macbeth even more, considering he is a soldier and is used to face to face fighting. This traumatises Macbeth to a point where he believes he w...

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