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Imagery in Macbeth

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Imagery in Macbeth

Response to “Macbeth”

2. How does Shakespeare’s use of imagery and recurring symbols add depth and meaning to the plot and characters in the play?

In all of Shakespeare's plays he uses many forms of imagery. Imagery is the art of making images, the products of imagination. In the play 'Macbeth' Shakespeare applies the imagery of clothing, darkness and blood. Each detail is his imagery, seems to contain an important symbol of the play, symbols that the audience must understand if they are to interpret either a passage or the play as a whole.

Within the play 'Macbeth' the imagery of clothing portrays that Macbeth is seeking to hide his "disgraceful self" from his eyes and others. Shakespeare wants to keep alive the ironical contrast between the wretched creature that Macbeth really is and the disguises he assumes to conceal the fact. The audience thinks of the play honours as garments to be worn; likewise, Macbeth is constantly represented symbolically as the wearer of robes not belonging to him. In the following passage, the idea constantly recurs that Macbeth's new honours sit ill upon him, like loose and badly fitting garments, which are upon him but he is still surprised that he has gained this new position:

"New honours come upon him,

Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould,

But with the aid of use."

(Act I, iii: 144)

The second form of imagery used to add to the atmosphere, the imagery of darkness. In a Shakespearean tragedy, the audience have known him to create a special tone, or atmosphere to show the darkness in a tragedy. In 'Macbeth', Shakespeare draws upon the design of the witches, the guilt in Macbeth's soul, and the darkness of the night to establish the atmosphere. All of the remarkable scenes take place at night or in some dark spot; for instance, the vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, and Lady Macbeth's sleep walking. Darkness is the time when the traveller hastens to reach safety in his inn, when Banquo rides homeward to meet his assassins; furthermore, it is the time when the wolf howls, the owl screams, and when murder takes forth to his work.

In 'Macbeth' darkness symbolizes many things. First, and most importantly, it stands for the evil and death in the play. The darkness could partially blind out all of the horrible things that occur in the night, for only in darkness can such evil deeds be done. Secondly, the darkness shows one of Lady Macbeth's weaknesses: her fear of dark. In the play, phrases of fear escape from her lips even in her sleep. She believes darkness to be the place of torment.

Within the whole drama, the sun seems to shine only twice. Firstly, in the beautiful but in the passages when Duncan sees the swallows flirting round the castle of death. Another time, when the avenging army gathers near Dunsanane. Therefore, the reader can conclude that Shakespeare portrays darkness to establish the evil parts of the play; whereas, the viewer employs daylight to define victory or goodness in the play.

The Viewers have known blood to all of us to represent life, death and often injury. Blood is an essential part of life and without blood, we could not live. This is known to everyone, and because of this, when Shakespeare uses the imagery of blood to represent treason, guilt, murder and death. The audience have easily understands it and fits it in perfectly with the ideas we have of blood. Blood is the most prominent and seems to be the most important imagery of Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’.

Shakespeare mentions the word blood, or different forms of it often in the play. Perhaps the best way to describe how the image of blood changes throughout the play, by following the character changes in Macbeth. First, he is a brave honoured soldier, but as the play progresses, he becomes identified withe death and bloodshed, along with showing his guilt in different forms.

The first sinister reference to blood is one of honour, showed in Act I Scene ii. This occurs when Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says, "What bloody man is that?” This is symbolic of the brave fighter who has been injured in a valiant battle for his country. In the next passage, in which the sergeant says, "Which smok'd with bloody execution," he is referring to Macbeth's braveness in which he covers his sword in the hot blood of the enemy.

The symbol of blood now changes to show a form of treachery and treason. Lady Macbeth starts this off when she

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