The Symbol Of Blood In Macbeth
Blood is something that we need to live. So it is clearly understood when Shakespeare uses the symbol of blood to represent murder, betrayal, and death, to show all of the evil that was going on. It is a symbol that was used the most in the play Macbeth, and had different meanings.
One of the first references to blood represents a feeling of honour, and bravery. It is in Act I scene 2 line 1. Duncan says, “What bloody man is that?” when he sees the injured sergeant. Then, from lines 9-33 (The Merciless Macdonwald, etc…) the sergeant tells the story of Macbeth’s heroic victories over Macdonwald and the King of Norway. The telling of this story is, in itself, heroic. It is symbolic of the brave fighter who has been injured in a brutal battle for his country. Due to all the blood he lost, he was weak. Consequently, his blood and heroism seem to make Macbeth look like a hero.
In Act 1 scene 5 lines 40-47, the blood changes into a form of betrayal when Lady Macbeth says, “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty: make thick my blood, stop up the access and passage to remorse, that no compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between the effect of it.” She means that she wants to make herself insensitive and remorseless for the crime that she is about to commit. The evidence of blood is an evil symbol. Therefore, when Lady Macbeth says in Act 2 scene2 lines 48-57, “Smear the sleepy grooms with blood, and “If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt”, she knows that smearing the blood will shift the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants.
The most vivid example of guilt using the symbol of blood by Lady Macbeth is in Act 5 scene 1 lines 35-40, where she walks in her sleep and tries to rub off the spot of blood on her hand. (“Out damned spot! 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 our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”). Her hallucinations of blood on her hands and her constant efforts to wash it off show the agony of having guilty feelings is making her go mentally disturbed. Later on, it strains her so much that she commits suicide. It is quite a coincidence that she said this, because in Act 2 scene 2 line 67, right after Macbeth murdered Duncan, she says “A little water clears us of this deed.” Shakespeare purposely alludes back to the Bible when Jesus was going to be crucified. Pontius Pilate said that he was freed of his blood and washed his hands.
Before Duncan’s murder, Macbeth imagines that he sees a dagger floating in the air in front of him. (“And on thy blade and dungeon, gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing: it is the bloody business which informs thus...