William Shakespeares play Macbeth is about a struggle for power in Scotland. Macbeth, the main character, gets prophecies from three witches about his future accomplishments that will come to him. One of his prophecies is that Macbeth will become king, Macbeth hearing this he becomes ambitious and later kills the current King Duncan, making himself the new king. A tragic ending comes to Macbeth when the people leave him and his world collapses around him. Blood is a recurring theme in this play; the theme of blood shows the setting of the play at that time and the different moods and emotions acquired by the characters. This idea of blood in the characters mind reverse from the beginning of the play to the end. Blood traverses the play Macbeth.
King Duncan is the first to bring up blood in the play. Scotland at this time is fighting Norway; Macbeth and his best friend, Banquo, lead the Scottish forces to victory. The blood brought up by Duncan shows the honor and the heroic deeds done by Macbeth. “What bloody man is that?” Duncan asked to which Malcolm tells him it is the sergeant who had saved him and fought honorably. The sergeant shares his story of how Macbeth has fought so honorably even outnumbered “carvd out his passage.” This valiant story with the bloody sergeant being weak from his war injuries enhances Macbeths heroic appearance. Duncans response to the story shows his respect for Macbeth and realization of Macbeths honor, “O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!” Blood as it shows the good also shares the evil.
Lady Macbeth portrays the evil side that blood offers to contrast with the good. Lady Macbeth hears from a messenger that the king shall arrive at the castle tonight. Lady Macbeth is the evil one of the pair while Macbeth seems full of good in this world Lady Macbeth sees opportunity. The only problem she finds wrong with herself is that she is a woman; she wishes that her weak female body change, “unsex me her, / and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/ of direst cruelty!” With this change she wants her blood to become thick, thick blood would help Lady Macbeth become strong and let her kill without regret, “make thick my blood, / stop up th access and passage to remorse.” Macbeth soon finds out what the word blood is to him.
Macbeth after he has killed Duncan is in shock, his world of good has been shaken and the blood within him is scared. The blood sets up in his mind a paranoid scene; him, being afraid of every thing. Macbeth thinks what he has done is a terrible thing when he looks at his hands, “This is a sorry sight,” although he has brought the daggers out with him which scares Lady Macbeth. She tells Macbeth to go back and “smear the sleepy grooms with blood.” Macbeth refuses to go because he is so shook up that he only can stare at his hands. He wants his blood that is on his hands which is full of his sickness and his nervousness off, “Will all great Neptunes ocean wash this blood / clean from my hand?” Macbeth answers his own question saying that this sickness and nervousness on his hands will not go away but it will make the ocean red with this blood, “No; this my hand will rather / the multitudinous seas incarnadine, / making the green one red.” Lady Macbeth returns to find her husband obsessed with the blood she has a different feeling about the blood in this scene.
Lady Macbeth keeps her composer and puts on a facade to the world. The blood on her seems to not bother her, evil has filled within her and a little blood does not tamper with her emotions. After she smears the guards with the kings blood, she returns to her husband proclaiming him as a coward. She tells her husband that her hands are exactly the same color as his but she is shamed that he has a “white” coward heart, “My hands are of your colour but I shame/ To wear a heart so white.” She tells her husband that, “A little water clears us of this deed,” and not to worry about anything. The morning after Duncans death shows many emotions showed through the word “blood.”
The thanes continue to mourn over the death of Duncan the day after looking for suspects. Ross, a thane, observes the situation, it is dark and dreary the world seems to be in an unnatural state. He says, “Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with mans act, / Threaten his bloody stage,” This “blood stage” is the earth that all of us humans act and live our lives. Duncans murder brings about this stage to become bloody and with some mans act the heavens now appear to be angry. Later in this scene Ross tells Macduff, “Ist known who did this more than bloody deed?” Ross says “more than bloody deed” because Duncan should not have been murdered, which is unnatural, but he should have died naturally.
Macbeth is crowned king, he then kills Banquo being afraid of what he shall do to Macbeth, from there he becomes more paranoid and turns his blood to evil. Macbeth sees Banquo and his “gory locks” at a banquet that Macbeth has after he knows that Banquo has died. Lady Macbeth covers for Macbeth and dismisses all the guests, when Macbeth is alone again he thinks about the events that have led up to that point, “they say, blood will have blood” This blood will always seek out revenge on the murderer. Macbeth keeps secret all of his bloody operations and then the bloody ghost arrived to confront him. Macbeths character has changed from scared to becoming fearless. His guilt was “brought forth” in front of his guest. “Brought forth / The secretst man of blood.” None of this shows any remorse towards his killing though, he knows that he is already in too deep and that the blood will keep on spilling no matter what. He is, “blood/ steppd in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go oer.” Macbeth chooses to go on because either way there is more blood to be spilled. Lady Macbeths perspective on blood has also reversed.
Lady Macbeth has been going crazy since Macbeths character has been changing. As Lady Macbeth sleep walks, her maid and a doctor observe her. She rubs her hands together as if she was washing them. She continues to “wash” King Duncans blood away until she reminds herself of the bell she rang to summon her husband. “Out damned spot! out, I say!” When Lady Macbeth thought of Macbeth being king she thought that no one could oppose his power and killing Duncan wouldnt cause any harm to her. “What need we fear who knows it, what none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?” She although adds that Duncan has a lot of blood and this reminds her of her guilt. This guilt plagues her and she is devastated in her dream when she realizes that, “Heres the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” Lady Macbeths perspective changed at this point on blood and she will later commit suicide.
Imagery is a useful tool used by many authors. Shakespeare used “blood” as an image throughout his play to show the emotions and actions of characters as well as the mood for that part of the play. This imagery is useful because it describes the characters