Shakespeare is a legendary name I would think of when it comes to literature, he tends to be able to tell a story by using different symbols, thus giving them different and deeper meanings than they would usually have. In his work of Macbeth, there are 5 symbols that tell us the story in the way he wants it portrayed; these symbols are: Blood, Bad Weather, Night/ Darkness, Dagger, and Sleep. Throughout Macbeth these symbols are used to give us a story of murder, guilt, and betrayal; therefore, showing us that everything is not what it seems and more can always unfold.
When people think of blood, they usually think of the stuff that runs through our veins. As humans in this play Macbeth, that isn't the case; blood seems to take more of a twisted turn symbolizing murder and guilt which essentially keeps the story progressing. Blood can first be spotted in Act 2, scene 2, lines 56-61 “ What hands are here! Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red.”. These lines give us the knowledge that no matter the lengths Macbeth goes to erase the guilt that he feels it will never cease and will forever follow him and be everlasting. So, when its says “ making the green ones red” it means that just washing his hands of the blood will not take the guilt but will only be turning the water red and leaving the stain of guilt. Basically, the importance of these lines in the play is that it starts to give us the sense of just how the guilt is consuming him, and also, it is essentially connecting with us the reader by showing us what one bad action can do to a person or which path it may lead them down. In addition, a second time blood can be spotted is in Act 5, scene 1, lines 32-37, “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 know 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?”. Now, these lines show that Lady Macbeth is beginning to sleep walk, and while doing so, she starts to see things that aren't there. For example, the blood of King Duncan on her hands is causing her great turmoil, but is not even really on her hands. This is due to her subconscious reminding her of the mistakes and wrong she has done; almost as if what was happening to Macbeth was beginning to happen to her as well. Although she was able to shove down all the guilt about the killing of King Duncan during the day, when night comes Lady Macbeth’s subconscious tends to come out and haunt her mercilessly of what she has done as mentioned before. These lines are important in the play because it reveals the following truth that: No matter how hard you try to get away from a bad deed, it will always come back to haunt you and even eventually leaving you in an unstable position wishing you had never done the deed in the first place.
Next, the dagger in Macbeth doesn't just mean a sharp thing that can kill, although it is what he uses to kill King Duncan, but it takes on a deeper meaning of guilt and temptation. The mention of the dagger was in Act 2 the dagger appears and is floating in front of him pointing in the direction of King Duncan. Macbeth begins to think and question why exactly the dagger is there and what is its purpose. The guilt of the dagger plays a big part in Macbeth by showing what is to come from the actions he is about to carry out. This explains why the blood spots begin to appear on the one floating daggers that is in front of him. Overall, the dagger is set to represent Macbeth’s trial between his guilt and his temptation for the crown.
The third representation of a symbol in Macbeth is sleep. Although we, ourselves, view sleep as in entity that represents being in a state of peace or a sign of innocence. In this story written by Shakespeare, the symbol represents Macbeth’s lack of sleep. To better explain, in Act 2 we are introduced to the conclusion that Macbeth has committed the murder of King Duncan, therefore setting out his conquest of the crown. In particular, there is one line in the act, “Macbeth does murder sleep” that directly supports the symbol of sleep. In other words, the quote means that because Macbeth has murdered Duncan, and in return, his consequence is that his innocence or act of the state of sleep is forever gone because he can no longer sleep. Another direct quote that also helps symbolize Macbeth’s sleep is “Me thought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more”. This quote only furthers the claim of Macbeth’s consequence of losing his ability to have peaceful sleep due to the murders he has committed. The basis of this symbol is that he is being haunted by his sleep, continuously experiencing nightmares, and that Lady Macbeth is also being disturbed because she continues to sleepwalk in her sleep due to her participation in these treacherous acts.
The fourth symbol is Night/ Darkness. This symbol I would say helped progress the story at times by setting the atmosphere for what was going on in the moment. Darkness first made an appearance with the Macbeths almost as if it was a cover for the bad deeds they were about to commit. The conquest for which they are embarking on is a path filled with darkness because of their ambition and intent to fulfill his prophecy of becoming king. This symbol is first seen in the very beginning of the play because it begins with thunder and lightning being introduced with three witches being at the center of this event. The three witches help symbolize the darkness because they evoke, or stir up, evil, magic, and fate by delivering a prophecy, or message, that Macbeth will eventually become King. This in turn leads to an internal destruction for Macbeth because his ambitions to fulfill the prophecy ultimately demoralizes him because of the simple fact that he is inclined to commit evil because he deeply wants power. This being the opener for the story evokes the mood to be evil and filled with darkness.
Symbolism in this capacity is very important because it helps foreshadow the direction and mood of the story. Furthermore, the fifth and last symbol is bad weather. Bad weather basically predicts the evil that is to come. For example, Macbeth opens with thunder and lighting ultimately setting the tone for the whole play. Which is why we continue to see it throughout the play, when it says “ thunder, lightning, and rain” it doesn't just mean bad weather, but it goes into a deeper meaning symbolizing the storm that is brewing inside Lady Macbeth and Macbeth as they began their evil deeds. Overall, this symbol is closely related to the symbol of the night and darkness because they are all closely related forms of bad weather which tends to happen during darkness.
The symbolization portrayed in this story is seen throughout the entire play and helps form a deeper understanding of the events that are happening in this play. Macbeth tells a story of conquest and bloodshed that happens because of the excess of ambition and greed. Macbeth being hungry for power serves as his motivation for the detrimental and drastic measures he takes and deeds he performs. Shakespeare’s use of symbolism in the forms of Blood, Bad Weather, Night/ Darkness, Dagger, and Sleep gives the reader a deeper understanding of the murder, guilt, and betrayal that unfolds as the play progresses. A theme, lesson to be learned, or message is laid out for all to heed: Always be careful what you do in the dark because eventually it will come back to haunt you. For Macbeth, the guilt was the ruin of him.
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