I am going to prove that in the play Macbeth, a symbol ofblood is portrayed often(and with different meanings), and thatit is a symbol that is developed until it is the dominating themeof the play towards the end of it.To begin with, I found the word “blood”, or different formsof it forty-two times (ironically, the word fear is usedforty-two times), with several other passages dealing with thesymbol. Perhaps the best way to show how the symbol of bloodchanges throughout the play, is to follow the character changesin Macbeth. First he is a brave honoured soldier, but as theplay progresses, he becomes a treacherous person who has becomeidentified with death and bloodshed and shows his guilt indifferent forms.The first reference of blood is one of honour, and occurswhen Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says “What bloody manis that?”. This is symbolic of the brave fighter who beeninjured in a valiant battle for his country.
In the nextpassage, in which the sergeant says “Which smok’d with bloodyexecution”, he is referring to Macbeth’s braveness in which hissword is covered in the hot blood of the enemy.After these few references to honour, the symbol of bloodnow changes to show a theme of treachery and treason. LadyMacbeth starts this off when she asks the spirits to “make thickmy blood,”. What she is saying by this, is that she wants tomake herself insensitive and remorseless for the deeds which sheis about to commit. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence ofblood is a treacherous symbol, and knows it will deflect theguilt from her and Macbeth to the servants when she says “smearthe sleepy grooms with blood.”, and “If he do bleed, I’ll gildthe faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt.” When Banquo states “and question this most bloody piece of work,”and Ross says “is’t known who did this more than bloody deed?”,they are both inquiring as to who performed the treacherous actsupon Duncan. When Macbeth is speaking about Malcolm andDonalbain, he refers to them as “bloody cousins”A final way, and perhaps the most vivid use of the symbolblood, is of the theme of guilt.
First Macbeth hints at hisguilt when he says “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash thisblood clean from my hand?”, meaning that he wondered if he wouldever be able to forget the dastardly deed that he had committed. Then the ghost of Banquo, all gory, and bloody comes to hauntMacbeth at the banquet. The sight of apparitions represents hisguilt for the murder of Banquo which he planned. Macbeth shows abit of his guilt when he says “It is the bloody business whichinforms thus,” he could not get the courage to say murder afterhe had killed Duncan, so he says this instead.
Lady Macbeth shows the most vivid example of guilt using thesymbol of blood in the scene in which she walks in her sleep. She says “Out damned spot! Out I say! One: two: why then ’tistime to do’t: hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, andafeard? What need we fear who knows it when none can call outpower to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to havehad so much blood in him?”. This speech represents the fact thatshe cannot wipe the blood stains of Duncan off of her hands. Itis ironic, that she says this, because right after the murder,when Macbeth was feeling guilty, she said “A little water clearsus of this deed.” When the doctor of the castle finds out aboutthis sleepwalking, he tells Macbeth “As she is troubled withthick-coming fantasies,”. What this means, is that Lady Macbethis having fantasies or dreams that deal with blood.
Macbeth knowsin his mind that she is having troubles with her guilt, but doesnot say anything about it.Just before the ending of the play, Macbeth has Macduff athis mercy, and lets him go, because of his guilt. He shows thathe is guilty, when he says “But get thee back, my soul is toomuch charg’d with blood of thine already.”. Of which, Macduffreplies, “I have no words, my voice is in my sword, thou bloodiervillain than terms can give thee out.”After the death of Macbeth at the hands of Macduff, thesymbolic theme of blood swings back to what it was at thebeginning of the play. It is the symbol of honour to Malcolmthis time.
The death of Macbeth is honoured feat that Macduff iscongratulated for. So as we have seen meaning of the symbol of blood changefrom honour to treachery, and then to guilt, after this, itreturns to the symbolic meaning of honour once again after thevillain that changed the meaning from honour to tyranny iskilled. Due to these many changes, it has been proved that thesymbol of blood has many different meanings which can beattributed to it throughout the course of this play. English