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The Symbol of Blood in Macbeth

Macbeth had many symbols, which were linked to the themes in the play. One of the symbols would be blood, and the theme to follow through with it is murder and the dread associated with murder. A lot of the scenes in the play involving killing have blood stated. Blood is a significant symbol when connected to the theme of killing and is also used as a foreshadowing device. The first blood reference is one of honor and occurs when Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says, “What bloody man is that?”(Act 1 Sc ii, line 1). This is symbolic of the brave fighter who has been injured in a heroic battle for his country.

In the following passage, in which the sergeant says, “Which smoked with bloody execution”(Act 1 Sc ii, line 18), he refers to Macbeth’s braveness. After that, Shakespeare exploits blood as a symbol, which takes place in Act 2, when Macbeth is preparing to kill Duncan. He imagines a dagger, a bloody dagger at that, pointing towards Duncan’s room. Macbeth describes it “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before…It is the bloody business which now informs thus to mine eyes.” (Act 2, Scene ii, 55-58). In this scene, the blood foreshadows that Macbeth is about to kill Duncan.

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It also reflects on his state of mind, where he fears killing Duncan because his mind is playing tricks on him. Shakespeare most likely put this in as a suspicion of murder and death to come later in the play. Another example of blood used as a symbol was Act 2, Scene ii. The symbol of blood was now used to show deceit and betrayal. Lady Macbeth starts this off when she asks the spirits to “Make thick my blood.” She is saying that she wants to make herself numb to all feelings and ruthless for the actions that she is about to commend. In Act 2, Scene ii, Lines 11-12, “I laid their daggers ready; He could not miss them”.

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Notice how she said their daggers. She is setting up the innocent servants of the king, making it look like they committed this horrendous act. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol and knows it will prevent the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants when she says, “Smear the sleepy grooms with blood.” and “If he does bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt.” Lady Macbeth doesn’t know that blood would become her worst enemy in the long run, so as a reader, we could foreshadow, what would happen here on in.

Furthermore, Shakespeare pertains to blood as a sign of guilt. Macbeth says, in (Act 2, Scene iii, Line 60), “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?” Macbeth feels very guilty for his actions and doesn’t know how to deal with them, he wants to wash away everything, but he can’t because he knows he doesn’t have God’s love and protection anymore. As a reader, we could foreshadow that Macbeth is slowly but surely deteriorating mentally. In Act 2, Scene iii; Lines 123-134, Malcolm and Donailbain are talking about the situation with Macbeth and his ruling, saying, “There are daggers in men’s smiles, the nearer in blood, the nearer bloody.” Implicating that their closest friends and relatives are likely to kill them. Infamous

Act 5, scene I, line 27-60, the sleepwalking scene, had the most meaning and ties to blood. Lady Macbeth had many indications of the evil deeds that Macbeth and herself have committed, most of which have a blood connection. IFor example, inline 31 of Act 5, scene I, she does gestures of washing her hands, saying, “Out damned spot! Out, I say”, she is referring to the blood that stained her hands after smearing it all over the servants. It has contradicted lady Macbeth, she thought blaming the servants would have her clear of everything, but she is now going crazy subconsciously and feels very guilty.

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In Act 5, Scene I, Line 38, she makes another reference to the guilt, saying, “What will these hands ne’er be clean?” She feels like she can’t ever have pure hands, and it will constantly be wetted with blood, it shows the reader that she is very remorseful for her actions, and we almost feel very pitiful for her. The last connection between blood and lady Macbeth is symbolized in Act 5, Scene i, Lines 44-45, “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this hand”. She has completely lost her mind, she has felt so much guilt, that it has to lead her to insanity, not only does she see that her hands are bloody, but also smells of it. Blood has lead lady Macbeth to her death

Lastly, we are in the scene with Macbeth at his castle, preparing to fight Malcolm’s army. He and Macduff confront and battle. In Act 5 Scene viii, Macbeth says “…my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already.” And Macduff replies and says, “I have no words. My voice is my is in my sword, thou bloodier villain…” Macbeth was saying how he has done so much bloodshed that he doesn’t mind it anymore, and he has no fear of it.

Throughout the whole play, Shakespeare’s use of blood and its symbolization, to guilt and foreshadowing was wonderfully done. In general, when we think of blood, we imagine injury, death and it is a vital part of life. In the play, it was used as a sign of guilt and deceit, which killed the souls of Macbeth and lady Macbeth. It was also used as a foreshadowing scheme. From this essay, you will see that there are many connections between blood and what it symbolizes.

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The Symbol of Blood in Macbeth. (2021, Sep 27). Retrieved August 14, 2022, from