What Does Blood Symbolize In Macbeth

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Blood Symbolism in Macbeth

by Sean Lowe

Symbolism is the practice of representing peoples, places, objects, and ideas by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships. Most great works of literature seem to include some degree of symbolism. Accordingly, Shakespeare’s Macbeth exhibits a great deal of symbolism. One heavily used symbol is that of blood. In Macbeth, blood symbolizes murder and guilt, and Shakespeare uses this symbol to characterize Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Blood reveals Macbeth’s feelings about murder. For example, blood symbolism exposes the apprehensiveness of Macbeth before he kills Duncan . Macbeth hallucinates a dagger floating before him, guiding him towards
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Initially, she is a beguiling instigator of murder, and her first reaction to blood displays this nonchalant attitude. She tells Macbeth, “My hands are of your colour, but I shame / To wear a heart so white” (IIii 24). Lady Macbeth effortlessly washes off this blood with water, disregarding the guilt. Lady Macbeth’s second reaction to blood, however, exhibits shock over her husband’s free acts of cruelty. She sees the guards her husband has slain and faints. Covered in blood, the murdered guards underline Macbeth’s malice and cruelty. Therefore, when Lady Macbeth faints at the sight of these symbols, she makes obvious her change from plotting instigator to shocked observer. Blood continues to symbolize guilt, and eventually, just as Macbeth wants to remove blood from his hands, Lady Macbeth wants to cleanse her hands of blood and guilt. She visualizes a spot of blood on her hands and perpetually tries to wash it off. “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” (Vi 72). The stigma of guilt, however, cannot be removed, which reveals Lady Macbeth’s haunting, incurable guilt over the murders during Macbeth’s reign. Lady Macbeth continues in woeful guilt, saying “The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? / What, will these hands ne’er be clean? No more / o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with / this starting” (Vi 72). She says her hands will never be clean, indicating that…show more content…
Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s reactions to blood underline their inverse attitude changes. Macbeth moves from immeasurable guilt to callous killer, while Lady Macbeth starts as the callous killer and falls to a state of despair. Thus, the blood symbol allows the reader to not only see the character changes of Macbeth’s two main characters, but also compare and contrast these

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