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Recurring Motifs And Themes: "Macbeth" Essay

1907 words - 8 pages

* Ambition and Betrayal. Thematically, Macbeth is seen as warning of the dangers of ambition, showing that ambition can be a morally corrupting agent. Ambition can be seen as Macbeth's tragic flaw: it consumes him - ironically, by the end of the play, it consumes him in the other sense of the word. Betrayal goes hand-in-hand with ambition, and it is another theme: Macbeth betrays both his own king and his friend by killing Duncan and then Banquo, respectively. Interestingly, Macbeth's murder of Duncan early in the play, an act of treason, (Act II, Scene 2) Then later, in the middle of the play (Act 3) the murder of Banquo emphasizes the thematic importance of the murder of Duncan. Betrayal is also shown when, after the prophecy, Macbeth becomes Thane of Cawdor after the previous Thane is executed for betrayal against the king, and as Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth betrays the King by murdering him.* Visions. Macbeth hallucinates a bloody knife in the air pointing to King Duncan's resting chamber "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand" (Act II Scene I). Macbeth knows what he is doing will change his life. Committing regicide is a sin that can't be forgiven. Macbeth may see this through the supernatural powers of the three witches, or it may be another hallucination. Lady Macbeth believes there is blood on her hands that won't come off "Out damned spot! Out I say!" (Act 5 Scene 1). Lady Macbeth here is sleepwalking and spot is being referred to as blood stained hands. Lady Macbeth can't cleanse herself of the guilt of plotting King Duncan's murder. Though it is not clear whether it is a mere vision or not, some believe that the ghost of Banquo, which Macbeth sees at the Royal Banquet, is a figment of his guilty conscience. Of course, one could also argue that a real ghost would not be unusual in a play that includes supernatural witches and apparitions.* Blood and bloodshed. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth's army has just defeated Norwegian invaders in a gruesome battle. A captain is mortally wounded and the king remarks on it, "What bloody man is that? He can report, as seemeth by his plight" (Act I Scene III). Blood thus symbolizes the advent of a messenger, the admonitions of God or nature displaying man his future in red letters. The cauldron of the witches, that whispering-post of the Fates, is filled with blood. The shedding of blood continues throughout the play until the very end, when Macbeth is slain by Macduff "Hail King! For so thou art: behold, where stands Th' usurpers cursed head". Macduff then shows Malcolm, the new king, Macbeth's head dripping with blood. Though the tyrant's mouth no longer speaks, his bloody droplets proclaim the message of his life, and in death he becomes a kind of prophet. Blood can also be shown as representing guilt. When Macbeth kills King Duncan blood on his hand symbolizes guilt. Later in the play, Lady Macbeth, in her midnight ramble, believes that she sees blood on her...

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