Power of Blood in Shakespeare's Macbeth Blood Essay

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Power of Blood in Shakespeare's Macbeth

Blood is powerful when it comes to invoking images and William Shakespeare knew when he wrote Macbeth, the audience would remember everything with blood imagery sprinkled throughout the drama. Blood imagery helps emphasizes the extrreme change in Macbeth's character and it is compelling because blood is vital for life. When we see blood, we generally think of life or death in some or another.With Macbeth, Shakespeare reminds us not only of the loss of life but the loss of sanity that also occurs as a result of the death that occurs in the play. As the play progresses, blood represents guilt, which eats Macbeth alive. Later, we associate blood with justice. Blood symbolizes the lives and minds that are lost in the play.

Blood is present from the easrly moments in the play, establishing an eerie mood. Mark Van Doren writes Macbeth's world is a world that has "grown terrible with ill-smelling mists and the stench of blood" (Van Doren 347). He says the presence of blood "sickening" (353) because the imagery only "darkens" (353) after murder takes place A.C. Bradley says it "cannot be an accident that the image of blood is forced upon us continually, not merely by the events themselves but by full descriptions" (Bradley 278). Shakespeare never glosses over blood,
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but instead fills our minds with images of it, so it is never far. He uses blood to highlight the change of Macbeth's character. As Macbeth's becomes more unstable, blood becomes more commanding and grotesque. Like Macbeth, the images of blood change bad to worse.

An example of how blood is associated with Macbeth's shcaracter occurs just before blood is spilled when Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating before him. The scene is gripping and Macbeth says:

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. (Shakespeare I.i.57-60)

Here blood imagery linked with murder.

Blood imagery helps us understand the changes in Macbeth's character. G. Wilson Knight says the men is "paralyzed, mesmerized, as though in a dream'" (Knight qtd. In Eastman 246) and once he decides to commit murder, it is because "he is driven by fear -- the fear that paralyzes everyone else urges him to do an amazing and mysterious action of blood'" (Knight qtd. In Eastman 246). Harold Bloom agrees, adding the play is a "tragedy of blood not just in its murders but in the ultimate implications of Macbeth's imagination itself being bloody" (Bloom 520). Bloom believes Macbeth "moves in a consistent phantasmagoria of blood: blood is the prime constituent of his imagination. He sees what opposes him is blood in one aspect . . . this opposing force thrusts him into shedding more blood"…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books. 1998. Print.

Bradley, A.C. Shakespearean Tragedy. New York: Fawcett Premier. 1991. Print.

Eastman, Arthur. A Short History of Shakespearean Criticism. New YorK W.W. Norton and Company. 1974. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Square Press. 1992. Print.

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