Macbeth By Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper
William Shakespeare once said, “For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, who
art as black as hell, as dark as night.” Deception plays a big part in the play Macbeth. The
play is about a king who is murdered by one of his most trusted men trying to gain power.
During the play Shakespeare heightens the mood by using various accounts of imagery.
The blood and night imagery that Shakespeare uses adds to the evil, darkness and
deception surrounding the play.
Night has a role of great importance during the play. Lady Macbeth beckons,
“Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not
the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry “Hold,
hold!” Without the obscurity of night, she would not have urged Macbeth to kill the king
as she did. The night, however, gives her the impression that Macbeth can indeed kill King
Duncan with no one uncovering his contemptible crime, the same idea that Macbeth had
when he said, “Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires” It
seems as if the whole plot revolves around the night and the many roles it holds
throughout the play.
Shakespeare often uses darkness and storms to depict that evil happenings are
occurring or are about to take place. There are at least three examples of this in Macbeth.
Most of the evil things that Macbeth does in the story occurs in the nighttime. Lennox
states, “… the obscure bird Clamored the livelong night. Some say, the earth Was
feverous and did shake,” in reaction to Macbeth’s first evil act, killing the king of Scotland.
“The night has been unruly: where we lay, Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they
say, Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,…” “Three score and ten I can
remember well; Within the volume of which time I have seen Hours of dreadful and things
strange, but this sore night Hath trifled former knowings.” Both these quotes are talking
about the night of Duncan’s death. They are showing the comparisons between the natural
unruliness and the unusual disaster.
In the play, the word “blood” is mentioned numerous times. Shakespeare’s use of
this particular word is significant; he uses it to develop the character of Macbeth and the
unfolding events of the drama. The powerful symbolic meaning of blood changes from the
beginning to the end. Before Duncan’s murder, Macbeth imagines seeing a dagger floating
in the air before him. He describes it, “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes.” This blood imagery refers to treason, ambition, and murder. Blood,
once seen as a positive value, is now associated with evil.
After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth begins to realize the severity of his crime as
he tries to wash Duncan’s blood off his hands, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this
blood Clean from my hand? No; this hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.” Macbeth laments that not even all the water in the ocean will
wash the blood off his hands, he is beginning to realize the magnitude of his crime, and
that he has done something truly evil.
Shortly after Macbeth sees the ghost of the murdered Banquo at his feast, he goes
into a state of shock and has to be escorted back to his chamber by Lady Macbeth. He
tells Lady Macbeth before he goes to sleep, “All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er:”
Macbeth has now entered so far into hell and the world of evil, it is impossible for him to
return to righteousness. He will be forced to kill more and more people in order to retain
control of the throne. The sins he has committed have not only perverted his virtuous life,
but have condemned him to an eternity in hell. There is no chance of redemption; he has
permanently allied himself with the forces of evil. Like her husband, the once ambitious
Lady Macbeth finally realizes the significance of associating herself in the murder plot, and
the severe consequences it will bring. Tormented by nightmares, she sleepwalks through
her bedroom and cries, “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?…Here’s the smell of the
blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” The blood imagery
exhibits Lady Macbeth’s guilt over Duncan’s murder. Her hallucinations of blood on her
hands and her constant efforts to wash it off demonstrate that the agony of having guilty
feelings is causing her to go insane.
In the play’s final scene, Macduff confronts Macbeth to avenge the murders of his
children and his wife at Macbeth’s hand, and to see Malcolm established as the rightful
King. As Malcolm sees Macbeth, he exclaims, “I have no words: My voice is in my sword,
thou bloodier villain Than terms can give thee out!” Shakespeare uses this blood imagery
to enhance the complete transformation of Macbeth. He begins as a noble, just and brave
person, to becoming evil, ambitious, and treacherous during Duncan’s murder, to his final
feelings of remorse for his crime and finally, to the realization that he will be punished for
Words can have a very powerful influence on the effectiveness of a play. Not
necessarily the words used but how they are used. Shakespeare takes two words, night
and blood, and uses them to turn Macbeth into the play it is, full of deception, greed, and