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Macbeth - Symbols

Uploaded by bron on Jun 29, 2001

Throughout Shakespeare’s Macbeth, numerous symbols are used. Many of these depict characters’ actions and appearances, emotions, and events that have happened previously in the play. Although there are many symbols used all through the play, there are three important groups of symbols that are used most regularly. These are blood, sleep and animals, which all have different representations.

Blood is an important symbol that is used continuously in the play. In the beginning of the play, blood is something which represents courage and bravery. Those who fought and created blood were thought to be heroic. However, towards the end of the play, blood has become something which everyone fears, it is evil, and symbolises guilt and murder. An example of this can be found in act three, scene four, starting at line one hundred and twenty-three:

Macbeth: It will have blood, they say: blood will have blood.
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augures and understood relations have
By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?

The first line signifies that those who are involved in bloody crimes, will someday become victims of them. It is saying that people are always punished at some time in their lives for their wrong doings. The statement also signifies that murder and violence are something that Macbeth is very familiar with. Using blood as a symbol in this passage makes it somehow more emotional and gets its point across while making the viewer or reader think. The symbol of blood is used extremely well all throughout the play.

Sleep is another of the important symbols used in the play. Sleep signifies the nature and essence of a person, and is something which is very peaceful and innocent. Sleep begins in this way in Macbeth, but as the play progresses, it becomes something that people fear. The characters don’t feel safe to sleep, as they are afraid that they will become victims of death if they do. An example that demonstrates this can be found in act two, scene two, from line thirty-four onwards:

Macbeth: Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep” – the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast ---

Lady Mac: What do you mean?

Macbeth: Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the house:
“Glamis...

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Uploaded by:   bron

Date:   06/29/2001

Category:   Macbeth

Length:   4 pages (894 words)

Views:   6097

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