Saturday, May 7, 2011

Term Paper on Blood in Macbeth

Essay on Blood Imagery in Macbeth

Power coupled with unchecked ambition sets the stage for murder and treason. In the tragedy of Macbeth, William Shakespeare tells the story of a noble general who is seduced by half true prophecies and allows his ambition to dictate his actions. He falls from a life of honor and virtue into a spiral of murder and treachery which ultimately leads to his demise. Shakespeare uses blood imagery to portray the life of Macbeth and the horrors which befall Scotland.


Whether noble or insidious, blood is always used to describe the character of Macbeth. In the opening of the play, the audience is greeted with the bloody battle between the forces of Macbeth and Banquo against the invading armies of Norway and the treacherous Macdownwald. "What bloody main is that?" (Act 1, Scene 2, line 1) Here, Shakespeare uses blood to symbolize the courage and valor of defending one's country.

"Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chaps, and fixed his head upon our battlements" (Act 1, Scene 2, line 22). Though Macbeth's actions are bloody, they are inherently good; they are the result of putting down a rebellion. Even as a hero Macbeth profits from the death of others. Soon Macbeth will use murder to attain what is not rightfully his, the throne of Scotland.

Shakespeare constantly uses references to blood to instill fearful images of the horrors that are brought upon Scotland under the reign of Macbeth. "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before" (Act 2, scene 1, line 46). The image of blood is now reversed. No longer representing courage and valor, blood is now a symbol of the treachery that is brewing inside Macbeth's mind. "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" (Act 2, Scene 2, line 60) Having just betrayed his friend and king, Macbeth's conscience weighs heavily on him as he realizes the severity of his actions. The blood on Macbeth's hands represents guilt that he doubts he will ever be rid of. Macbeth now profits from the murder of his countrymen. Macbeth soon realizes that he must continue to murder to retain his throne. After learning of the murder of Banquo, Macbeth's conscience again agitates him, conjuring images of slain Banquo in his head. "I am in blood Stepped in so far, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as goo'er" (Act 3, scene 4, line 136). Macbeth realizes that he can no longer return to his just life. He understands that it would be just as hard to make amends for his sins as it would be to continue on his tirade.

The purpose of blood imagery shifts once more and blood becomes a symbol of freedom from tyranny. Macduff has gone to England to raise an army and aid Malcolm in unseating Macbeth. "I have no words; My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out!" (Act 5, scene 8, line 7) Devastated by the death of his wife and child, Macduff seeks retribution in slaying Macbeth. "Behold where stands the usurper's cursed head" (Act 5, scene 8, line 55). Once Macbeth has been slain his severed head becomes a symbol of freedom for Scotland. This is ironic considering the head of Macdonwald, cut off by Macbeth, was at one time also a symbol of freedom for Scotland.

Macbeth relates the life of a man who falls from a state of grace and becomes nothing more than a slave to sin. Shakespeare packs this play with images of blood that portray courage but also horror.

Warning!!! All free sample term papers and college term paper examples on Blood in Macbeth topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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