Themes and imagery
Themes and imagery
_ The imagery of Macbeth falls largely into the four categories of
darkness, disease, blood and clothing_.
As mentioned above much of the evil in this play takes place in darkness.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both call on darkness to hide their crimes,
Macbeth visits the witches at night, the murders are committed at night
time and the witches are considered to be the night's black agents.
The witches have the power to impose sickness on people as is evident in
Act 1, sc. 3, line 23. When Macbeth starts to show his guilt he becomes
"BRAIN SICKLY" (2,2, 50) and Lady Macbeth has to excuse his behaviour at
the banquet by saying he is ill. Lady Macbeth's guilt also surfaces as a
disease. Macduff vows to make a medicine out of revenge and Scotland itself
is said to be diseased under Macbeth's rule.
Blood initially represents strength, valour and bravery with the wounded
soldiers being praised. It then comes to represent evil as blood flows
freely after Duncan's murder. Macbeth and his wife both become obsessed by
blood with the blood on their hands symbolising their guilt. Macbeth
laments that "BLOOD WILL HAVE BLOOD" (3,4,123).
Images of clothing indicate Macbeth's unsuitability in the role as king.
He asks why he is dressed in "BORROWED ROBES" ( 1,3,108-109) when first
told he is Thane Of Cawdor and many others comment on his clothes being
ill-fitting; "NOW DOES HE FEEL HIS TITLE/ HANG LOOSE ABOUT HIM LIKE A
GIANT'S ROBE? UPON A DWARFISH THIEF" (5,3,20-23).
That concludes our study of Macbeth. Let's turn now to Arthur Miller's
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