Blood in Macbeth

How does Shakespeare use the motif of blood to develop the theme of Macbeth over the course of the play? Blood is generally used to depict death, betrayal or pain. All of these things are important aspects in Macbeth. Macbeth is a play written by Shakespeare about a man that began as a courageous thane and eventually becomes a power-hungry killer.

Macbeth would do almost anything to become King after the three witches prophesied that as being a part of his future. Macbeth and his wife became crazy because of the deadly deeds they committed including killing Duncan, their cousin, and other people in positions of power. Lady Macbeth began all in favor of the idea of her husband becoming King. The first deed, killing Duncan, was a hard one for Macbeth to actually gain the confidence to do. She insulted him over and over and drove him to commit the murder. In act 1, scene 7 Macbeth plans to frame his servants for the murder of Duncan.

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The whole ordeal was bloody, even before the murder took place. In act 2, scene 1 Macbeth has a bloody hallucination of a floating dagger with blood on it. He believes the dagger is leading him to kill Duncan but he cannot grasp it because it is not real. Blood continues to be a symbol in Macbeth in the acts following. In the act 4, scene 1 the witches use blood to create a brew as they await Macbeth’s arrival. Also in this scene the witches refuse to tell Macbeth anything else themselves.

They instead show him three apparitions, the second of which was a bloody child. This foreshadows the death of a child. At this point in the play Macbeth has killed several important people, including King Duncan, members of Macduff’s family and Banquo. These murders haunt him and his wife. His wife, Lady Macbeth was in a mental hospital in act 5, scene 1.

Lady Macbeth is walking around the empty halls talking and surrounding characters hear her and realize she is going insane. She also imagines that her garment is stained with blood that she just cannot remove. “Out damn spot! Out I say!” (5.1.31).

Lady Macbeth’s conscious is creating this hallucination because she knows it was wrong to kill Duncan. Eventually Lady Macbeth can take no more despair and she hangs herself. Macbeth is without a doubt a bloody play and it ends in a bloody battle in which Macbeth loses his head… literally this time. Throughout the play Macbeth has hallucinations including blood or reference to it. Macbeth kills people himself and on his orders.

All of this is done in an effort to become and remain King. In the beginning it seemed like one act would lead to success but one bloody act just continued to lead to the next. Macbeth took lives and even ultimately contributed to the death of his own wife. The motif of blood thoroughly helps develop the theme of the play. This is because blood depicts death, betrayal and pain which are all main themes within the play.