Themes of Macbeth

In the Play Macbeth written by William Shakespeare there are many themes, which are fueled by motifs. One of the more popular motifs is blood. Blood represents a lot of things death, revenge, guilt, fear, and life. This is popular because in this play

there are many people who are murdered in cold blood. This motif really helps the reader understand what the atmosphere is like. In the second scene of the play, a “bloody man” delivers the report of Macbeth’s heroic victory. After that we see and hear of much more blood. Like in Act 2 scene 1 when Macbeth kills King Duncan to become king. Macbeth’s hands are covered in Duncan’s blood. He asks himself if all the water in the world can wash away the blood: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?” And he answers his own question: “No, this my hand will rather / the multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red” (2.2.57-60). This really tells me that it is a dark moment in the play and that King Duncan has been killed.

When reading/watching the play I can see that Macbeth is not really happy with what he has done and is kind of going mad at the thought of it. In Macbeth the showing of blood usually means something bad has or happened. You can figure this out in act one scene four when the apparitions appear; we see blood on two of them. First comes an armed head, then a bloody child that tells Macbeth to “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn / the power of man, for none of woman born / shall harm Macbeth” (4.1.79-81). In act five scene one we find Lady Macbeth sleepwalking. She is sleeping because she is probably having a dream about King Duncan’s murder. As the sleepwalking scene continues, Lady Macbeth complains that she can’t get the blood off of her hands. “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” (5.1.44), She asks, and then she is devastated when she realizes that the blood will never come out: “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O!” (5.1.50-52). With these two quotes it appeared to me as if Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have switched feelings in the play. Lady Macbeth is regretting that she convinced her husband to kill King Duncan, while Macbeth doesn’t refer to it any more. In act five scene two Malcolm and Macduff are marching to Birnam Woods Meinteith is among those in the Scottish forces marching to join the English army at Birnam wood. Menteith says of Malcolm and Macduff, “Revenges burn in them; for their dear causes / would to the bleeding and the grim alarm / Excite the mortified man” (5.2.3-5).

When a frightened servant comes to tell Macbeth of the approach of ten thousand English soldiers, Macbeth is enraged by the servant’s face, which is pale with fear. He tells the servant, Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, / Thou lily-liver’d boy” (5.3.14-15). When I read this quote I could tell that Macbeth was both going to die or be thrown of the throne and Malcolm was to be the next king. Macduff catches up with Macbeth and challenges him, calling out, “Turn, hell-hound, turn!” (5.8.3). Macbeth answers, “Of all men else I have avoided thee: / But get thee back; my soul is too much charged / with blood of thine” (5.8.5-7). Blood is not mentioned again in the scene but it is seen both when Macbeth dies, and when Macduff carries in his head on a pole. The motif Blood drove this play and really made it interesting. It also drove the theme destructive nature on blind ambition because all the murders happened because to help improve Macbeth’s rein as king.

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