The Symbol of Blood in Macbeth

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The play Macbeth by Shakespeare uses the symbol of blood to represent themes of murder, treason, and death. Blood is an essential part of life and without it, we could not survive. Shakespeare effectively portrays blood as a metaphor for death and murder throughout the play, with numerous references to blood in scenes of violence and treachery. The symbol of blood is well understood by the audience and adds to the play’s overall theme of death and betrayal.

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Blood is known to all of us to represent life, death and ofteninjury. Blood is an essential part of life, and without blood, wecould 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 perfectlywith the ideas we have of blood.

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

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

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

I think that throughout the play, Shakespeare effectively conveystheme 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 beingused in the play is understood by the audience as being essentialto life, and in the context it is used, it is a perfect metaphorfor death and murder. I think that it is an effective symbol andis used well.

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The Symbol of Blood in Macbeth. (2019, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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