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Shakespeare’s Use Of Imagery In ‘Macbeth’

Shakespeare has used lots of imagery in his plays to make the audience think from a certain point of view, e.g. to create a certain mood, feeling or impression. In Macbeth, the main imageries Shakespeare used were weather, location, time, blood, clothing and light and darkness. To create the mood of evil and darkness in Act 1, Scene 1, the Weather in which the Witches always meet is dangerous and scary, “When shall we, three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 1). The audience also gets the feeling of the supernatural being present because if you wanted to meet someone you don’t usually plan it to be on a stormy day, “There to meet with Macbeth.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 7).

Shakespeare used the image of bad weather to create a feeling in people’s minds that something bad is going to happen. In Julius Caesar the weather turning bad is an indication that an evil crime is about to occur, “Are not you mov’d when all the sway of earth Shakes like a thing unfirm? O, Cicero! I have seen tempests when the scolding winds Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen Th’ ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam, To be exalted with the threatening clouds; But never till tonight, never till now, Did I go through a tempest dropping fire. Either there is a civil strife in heaven, Or else the world, too saucy with the gods, Incenses them to send destruction.” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 3).

When the witches meet with Macbeth and Banquo (Act 1, Scene 3) the weather is again stormy and dangerous to create the mood of danger to the audience. Macbeth and Banquo are horrified with how ugly the witches are but are not afraid of them, “That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth, And yet are on ‘t?” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 4). This gives the impression that Macbeth and Banquo are brave and the dangerous weather strengthens this impression. The location used as imagery in Macbeth is, for example, the Witches always meet on the Moor, this is an uncultivated piece of wasteland which is dark and dirty “Hover through the fog and filthy air” (Act 1, Scene1, Line 12). It is very strange for someone normal to meet here, again this gives us the feeling of evil and danger.

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Also, the Location where King Duncan was murdered was at his own castle makes the murderous event more sinister and the play more interesting and suspenseful. People in the play start to think the King’s own sons, might have committed the murder “They were suborn’d Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s two sons, Are stolen away and fled, which puts upon them Suspicion of the deed.”(Act 2, Scene 4, Line 24). This is also similar to Julius Caesar who was also killed on his own territory, the Senate House, “Caesar, all hail! Good morrow, worthy Caesar: I come to fetch you to the Senate House.” (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 58). In Act 5 Scene 1 Lady Macbeth suffered from guilt in the same castle where King Duncan was killed. This adds to the mystery of why Lady Macbeth went insane for example it could be something like the ghost of King Duncan which was disturbing her mind.

The Time the Witches choose to meet Macbeth is a time when the evil is high and of sadness “When the hurlyburly’s done when the battles lost and won.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 3). This quote tells us a battle has just finished and this is a time when evil has made men take lives of other men. It is also the time of sunset when night begins, everyone is indoors and darkness begins “That will be ere the set of sun.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 5). At the time the play was written, people usually believed that evil comes out at night. Shakespeare also used a lot of images of blood in Macbeth, for example, he uses blood as a metaphor with guilt, “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand Oh! oh! oh” (Act 5, Scene 1, Line 48), this helps the audience understand Lady Macbeth’s feeling much better. “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.” (Act 5, Scene 1, Line 41).

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Shakespeare used blood as a substitution for braveness as well, “What bloody man is that?” (Act 1, Scene 2), Here King Duncan is referring to a sergeant who has fought well he uses the imagery of blood because if you are brave in a battle you probably fought courageously and spilled a lot of blood. Shakespeare used images of Darkness in many plays but it plays a vital role in Macbeth for example, the vision of the dagger that Macbeth saw was at night, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 32). The murder of Duncan and Banquo was at night, “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeing night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, And with thy bloody and invisible hand” (Act 3, Scene 2, Line 45). In this quote, Shakespeare uses the imagery of Darkness and Blood. The use of imagery like this made the play much more powerful and enjoyable making Shakespeare one of the most skilful play writers in the History of the English language.

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Shakespeare's Use Of Imagery In 'Macbeth'. (2021, May 15). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/shakespeares-use-of-imagery-in-macbeth/