As the Bible says, To everything there is season and a time for every purpose, under Heaven (The Bible. King James Version.). Every change involving the time and season is unalterably fixed and determined by a supreme power. Every year has its seasons consistently following each other in uninterrupted order. The ending of one season marks the beginning of another. To change the natural order of passage under heaven is like having spring follow summer, unanticipated and unpredictable. Such occurrences happen in Macbeth, a tragedy by William Shakespeare, which cause the chain of being . Like an owl killing its predatory bird, the hawk, Macbeth kills his king. Thus begins the bloodshed that should never happen in heaven s natural order. This abrupt assassination sets a bloody mood for the rest of the play. Blood has a moral and not simply literal status (Bl6). One cannot live with blood on his mind, and one cannot live without blood in his veins. In the tragedy, blood is the essence of life and the guilt of cruelty and murder. Had this chain of being stayed in it s order, the guilt, evil, life, honor and integrity that blood represents, might never be captured.
Ironically, King Duncan is the first to mention blood in this play. He is also the first to have it removed from him. Scotland at this time is fighting Norway; Macbeth and his best friend, Banquo, lead the Scottish forces to victory. Kind Duncan asks his men, What bloody man is that? (1.2.1) enticing the bloody sergeant to tell of Macbeth and his heroic actions. This bloody man s tale is of a hero, Macbeth,
with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor s minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave (1.2.17-20)
of his enemy. He tells of Macbeth slaying his enemy from nave to th chops (1.2.21), thus initiating Macbeth s valiant appearance. This diction makes Macbeth s celebrated victory sound like a bloody slaughter as much as a glorious success. (D4). This blood brought up by Duncan shows the honor of the deeds done by Macbeth. This introduction illustrates the goodness of blood as it represents the evil.
Every man and woman on this earth has blood flowing through them. It is indistinguishably common and makes all men alike inside their veins. (J3). Blood is a constant reminder to us that we are mortal and capable of dying, just like any other man on this earth. When Ross hears of his father s untimely death he asks Macduff, Is t known who did this more than bloody deed? (2.4.22). The deed is “more than bloody” because it is unnatural. King Duncan was a good and kind man whose life naturally should have been cherished by everyone. When Macbeth murders King Duncan, he describes the king s blood as golden and laced with his silver skin. Only a king could have blood that appeared elegant like this. He is the naive victim in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth s evil scheme. The King s blood is not thick and evil; it is light and innocent just like his nature. Blood is a vital and animating force running through everyone. Blood will be there forever, until and after your death
Lady Macbeth exemplifies the evil side that blood offers. She contrasts Macbeth, who seems filled with loyalty and integrity. When she hears of King Duncan coming to her castle, Lady Macbeth prays to make thick [her] blood, stop up th access and passage to remorse (1.5.41-42) so that she can be strong and perform her evil deeds guilt-free. Thick blood will help Lady Macbeth become strong and forget her moral ethics so that pity will not flow along her veins (SIE3). Once she can allow herself to be immoral, she can kill without blood resting in her mind. Without the continuous blood flowing in her body, she cannot feel the pleasures or the pain of human life, and this is exactly what she wants. She wants to be insensitive to others and let out the dark side resting inside of her. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol, and she does not want it to be known with her name. Subsequent to Macbeth s slaying of Kind Duncan, Lady Macbeth takes the blood-splattered daggers from Macbeth. She brings the daggers to mark with blood those sleepy two of [Duncan s] own chamber (1.7.75-76). Lady Macbeth believes that by deflecting the blood onto the chamber servant s hands and body will deflect the guilt from herself.
Blood has changed Macbeth s character. Macbeth is in shock after he kills Duncan. He comes to the harsh realization with feelings of guilt and curiosity, that he has lost his integrity and moral values. He begins to understand the extent of his crime that he has committed. He feels his soul turning into something full of evil, deceit, and blind ambition. As he tries to explain this to Lady Macbeth, she merely tells him to Go get some water, and wash this filthy witness from your hand (2.2.45-46). Her conscience has not yet been affected by the murder of Duncan. Macbeth can wash away the blood from his hand, but never from his inside psyche. As Macbeth washes, he realizes that no amount of water will ever wash away the blood on his hands. If it could it would be like making the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red (2.2.62-3); thus the bloodstain can never be cleansed away; on the contrary, it will pollute the world (Bl2). The bloodstains on his hands could not be washed off by any means (F3).
The once ambitious Lady Macbeth finally realizes the significance of associating herself in the murder plot and the severe repercussions it will bring. She shows the most vivid case of guilt using the symbol of blood as she sleepwalks. She says, Out damned spot! Out I say! as she rubs an invisible blood spot off her hand. The fact that she cannot wipe the bloodstains of Duncan off her hand matches that she cannot wipe the guilt out of her conscience. Her suppressed incubus is emerging in her nightmares as she confesses her secrets about Duncan s murder. Yet, who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him? (5.1.35-36) cries Lady Macbeth from her tormenting dreams. The clich she utters is considered by scholar, A.C. Bradley, the most horrible line in the whole tragedy (AC1). It represents Lady Macbeth s feelings of guilt and irritation about the perfect murder ending disastrous. It proves that Lady Macbeth essentially sold her soul to the devil and has no regrets about what she has become. Her feelings of guilt have overwhelmed her physically and mentally. Lady Macbeth is losing her power and her desire to be vile and wicked. Her rhetorical question, What, will these hands ne er be clean? (5.1.38), needs no answer.
Macbeth has gone to the point of no return. He knows what he has done is wrong, but he has no desire or way to make the situation any better. Macbeth now wants to be evil in his blood as Lady Macbeth asked to be. He asks the gods to
Scarf the tender eye of pitiful day,
And with they bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale! (3.3.47-50)
He is in blood / Stepped in so far that, should [he] wade no more (3.4.136-137). To retain his place on the throne, he has to continue killing innocent victims who stand in his way. He does not know what is going to happen next. The sins he has committed have not only distorted his virtuous life, but also condemned him to an eternity in hell. It is impossible for him to return to his righteousness where he once stood. Macbeth becomes identified with hell as the sin of his bloody and horrible deed without a name . This name hangs in the air, awaiting discovery and precipitating evil s destructive energy (Nostbakken 5). Malcum He has permanently allied himself with the forces of evil. Macbeth remembers that it will have blood, they say: blood will have blood (3.4.122). He has killed two men already, and he will not be surprised if the odds turn against him now. He knows what he deserves, but he will fight it to the end. Macbeth is pictured holding a bloody scepter, and Scotland as a country bleeding and receiving every day a new gash added to her wounds.