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The Symbol of Blood in Macbeth

Blood is known 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 symbol of blood to represent treason,
murder and death, it is easily understood and fits in perfectly
with the ideas we have of blood.

Blood is mentioned often in the play and most times in reference
to murder or treason. The first sinister reference to blood is in
Act 2, Scene 1, when Macbeth sees the dagger floating in the air
leading him to Duncan’s room and he sees “on the blade and dudgeon
gouts of blood”, indicating that the knife has been visciously and
violently stabbed into someone. The next reference, in Scene 2, is
when Lady Macbeth smears the blood from the dagger on the faces
and hands of the sleeping servants “I’ll guild the faces of the
grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt”. This is another
sinister and evil reference to blood, setting up the innocent
servants of the king. Again, blood is referred to when Malcolm and
Donaldbain are discussing what to do and Malcolm says : “there’s
daggers in men’s smiles: the nearer in blood, the nearer bloody.”
Meaning that their closest relatives are likely to kill them.

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Again, blood is being used to describe treason, murder and death.

In Act 5, Scene 1 – the sleepwalking scene, while Lady Macbeth is
sleepwalking, there are constant references to the evil deeds that
Macbeth and herslef have committed, most of which include
references to blood. She goes through the motions of washing her
hands saying “Out damned spot! Out, I say” in reference to the
blood that stained her hands after smearing it all over the
servants. She also refers to Duncan’s murder saying : “Yet who
would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him!”. All
these references are to murder and both include direct references
to blood, again linking blood to treachery and murder.

I think that throughout the play, Shakespeare effectively conveys
theme of death, murder and treason through the symbol of blood.

Normally, the word blood makes us think about injury and death,
being an essential part of life, and the symbol of blood being
used in the play is understood by the audience as being essential
to life, and in the context it is used, it is a perfect metaphor
for death and murder. I think that it is an effective symbol and
is used well.


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