Macbeth – Imagery In Macbeth Essay
In all of Shakespeare’s plays he uses many forms of imagery. Imagery, the art of making images, the products of imagination. In the play ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare applies the imagery of clothing, darkness and blood. (listed from least to most), Each detail is his imagery, it seems to contain an important symbol of the play. Symbols that the reader must understand if they are to interpret either the passage or the play as a whole.
Within the play ‘Macbeth’ the imagery of clothing portrays that Macbeth is seeking to hide his “disgraceful self” from his eyes and others. Shakespeare wants to keep alive the ironical contrast between the wretched creature that Macbeth really is and the disguises he assumes to conceal the fact. In opinion, the reader thinks of the play honors as garments to be worn; likewise, Macbeth is constantly represented symbolically as the wearer of robes not belonging to him. He is wearing an undeserved dignity, which is a crucial point that Shakespeare has made. The description of the purpose of clothing in Macbeth is the fact that these garments are not his. Therefore, Macbeth is uncomfortable in them because he is continually conscious of the fact that they do not belong to him. In the following passage, the idea constantly recurs that Macbeth’s new honors sit ill upon him, like loose and badly fitting garments, belonging to someone else:
“New honours come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould,
But with the aid of use.”
(Act I, iii: 144)
The second form used to add to the atmosphere, the imagery of darkness. In a Shakespearean tragedy, we have known him to create a special tone, or atmosphere to show the darkness in a tragedy. In ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare draws upon the design of the witches, the guilt in Macbeth’s soul, and the darkness of the night to establish the atmosphere. All of the remarkable scenes take place at night or in some dark spot; for instance, the vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the Murder of Banquo, and Lady Macbeth’s sleep walking. Darkness is the time when the traveler hastens to reach safety in his inn, when Banquo rides homeward to meet his assassins; furthermore, it is the time when the wolf howls, the owl screams, and when murder steals forth to his work.
In ‘Macbeth’ darkness symbolizes many things. First, and most important, it stands for the evil and death in the play. The darkness could partially blind out all of the horrible things that occur in the night. For, only in darkness can such evil deeds be done. Secondly, the darkness shows one of Lady Macbeth’s weaknesses: her fear of dark. In the play, phrases of fear escape from lips even in her sleep. She believes darkness to be the place of torment.
Within the whole drama, the sun seems to shine only twice. First, in the beautiful but ironical passage when Duncan sees the swallows flirting round the castle of death. Another time, when at the close of the avenging army gathers to rid the earth of its shame. Therefore, the reader can conclude that Shakespeare portrays darkness to establish the evil parts of the play; whereas, we employ daylight to define victory or goodness in the play.
We have known blood to all of us to represent life, death and often injury. Blood is an essential part of life and without blood, we could not live. This is known to everyone, and because of this, when Shakespeare uses the imagery of blood to represent treason, guilt, murder and death. We have easily understood it and fits in perfectly with the ideas we have of blood. Therefore, this essay weighs blood to the most important imagery of Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’.
Shakespeare mentions the word blood, or different forms of it often in the play. Forty-two times to be exact (ironically, the word fear also is used the same amount), with several other passages dealing with imagery. Perhaps the best way to describe how the image of blood changes throughout the play, by following the character changes in Macbeth. First, he is a brave honored soldier, but as the play progresses, he becomes identified withe death and bloodshed, along with showing his guilt in different forms.
The first sinister reference to blood is one of honor, showed in Act I scene ii. This occurs when Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says “What bloody man is that?”. This is symbolic of the brave fighter who has been injured in a valiant battle for his country. In the next passage, in which the sergeant says “Which smok’d with bloody execution,” he is referring to Macbeth’s braveness in which he covers his sword in the hot blood of the enemy.
Act II, Scene ii. The symbol of blood now changes to show a form of treachery and treason. Lady Macbeth starts this off when she asks the spirits to “Make thick my blood.” What she is saying by this, is that she wants to make herself insensitive and remorseless for the deeds that she is about to commit. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol, and knows it will deflect the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants when she says “Smear the sleepy grooms withe blood.”, and “If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt.”
Act V, Scene i – Lady Macbeth shows the most vivid example of guilt with the use of the imagery of blood, in the scene that she walks in her sleep. She says “Out damned spot! Out I say! One: two: why then ’tis time to do’t: hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it when none can call out power to account? Yet who have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” All these references in the quotation are to murder and both include direct references to blood, again linking blood to treachery and murder. Yet, this speech represents the fact that she cannot wipe the blood stains of Duncan off her hand. It is ironic that she says this, because right after the murder, when Macbeth was feeling guilty, she said, “A little water clears us of this deed.” When the doctor of the castle finds out about this sleepwalking, he tells Macbeth, “As she is troubled with thick-coming fantasies,” meaning that Lady Macbeth is having dreams that deal with blood. Macbeth knows deep in his mind she is having troubles with her guilt, but does not say anything about it. Act V, Scene viii – just before the ending of the play, Macbeth has Macduff at his mercy, and lets him go, because of his guilt. He shows that he is guilty, when he says “But get thee back, my soul is too much charg’d with blood of thine already.” Of which, Macduff Replies, “I have no words, my voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out.”
After the death of Macbeth at the hands of Macduff, the imagery of blood swings back to what it was at the beginning of the play. But, it is the honor of Malcolm this time. The death of Macbeth is honored achievement that they congratulate Macduff for.
So as we have seen the imagery of blood change from honor to treachery, and then to guilt. After, it returns to honor again after the villain that changed the imagery of blood from honor to tyranny is killed. Due to these many changes, we have proved that the imagery of blood has many different forms that we can attribute to it during the play. Therefore, blood is the main imagery notion.