Lady Macbeth: “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the / perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this / little hand. Oh, oh, oh” (V. I. 50-52). Lady Macbeth has become berserk from the murders she assisted in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and she is attempting to wash imaginary blood off of her hands in her sleep, which represents her guilt. This quote is ironic due to Lady Macbeth taunting Macbeth in act II, scene Il about when he was hysterical about Duncan’s blood on his hands.
She tells Macbeth that a little water will wash off the blood, but now, she is struggling with cleaning imaginary blood off of her hands in her leep, and despite everything she attempts to do, nothing will clean it off in her mind. This leads to Lady Macbeth becoming maniacal and eventually taking her own life. In Macbeth, ambition has led Macbeth into killing the King of Scotland, Duncan. Macbeth takes the throne, however, he is subsequently defeated by Macduff.
Shakespeare uses the symbol of blood to represent remorse, hatred, Macbeth’s problems, morality, and malice to manifest Macbeth’s transformation from an upstanding general to an unscrupulous king. Shakespeare uses blood to portray how Macbeth has developed into a spiteful ruler. Blood represents Macbeth’s guilt for murdering Duncan in act II. In act II, scene I, Macbeth is on his way to take Duncan’s life, and he hallucinates, seeing a bloody dagger. Macbeth: “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, / Which was not so before” (2. 1. 46-47).
The blood on the dagger represents guilt, specifically Macbeth’s guilt, because he initially did not desire to murder Duncan. This is due to the fact that he esteemed Duncan as a superb king in act scene VII, where he had decided not to proceed with the plot to assassinate Duncan, but now Macbeth is forced to murder Duncan. The bloody dagger is just another deterrent his mind has fabricated so that he does not go against his moral code by taking Duncan’s life, however, Macbeth still proceeds to slaughter Duncan. This is demonstrating that Macbeth is starting to allow his ambition to take over his actions.
In act II, scene II, Macbeth has returned from murdering Duncan, and he states that Duncan’s blood on his hands will not be cleansed off. Macbeth: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine/ Making the green one red” (II. II. 57-60). The blood represents Macbeth’s guilt being permanent because Macbeth believed Duncan was an excellent ruler, and since he had taken the life of the man he reveres, Macbeth feels the backlash of his evil deed as it infringed his moral code.
Macbeth proceeds to say that the blood will not be washed off, which corresponds to guilt because he had never desired to kill Duncan; he has been pushed beyond his limits, and his psychological response is the ordeal that the blood, symbolizing guilt, will not be washed off. Act Il reveals the first stage of Macbeth’s descent into corruption ecause his expression of guilt in act Il shows he still has some humanity left within him to feel the consequences of his deeds. In act III, blood represents Macbeth’s loathing and complications.
In act III, scene I, Macbeth says that every moment Banquo is alive, he is dying. Macbeth: “So is he mine; and in such bloody distance, / That every minute of his being thrusts / Against my near’st of life; and though I could” (III. I. 115-117). The blood represents revulsion because Macbeth heard the witches’ prophecy about Banquo’s children becoming king. Macbeth’s ambition causes him to loathe Banquo because e feels his hold on the Scottish throne is threatened by Banquo, and so feels the need to eliminate Banquo by hiring murderers to take Banquo’s life.
This shows how vile Macbeth has gotten because he is willing to take the life of others to secure his hold on his throne; this is further emphasized when he feels no remorse for hiring the murderers contrast to the disincentives he had before assassinating Duncan. In act III, scene IV, Macbeth mentions that he has stepped so far in blood that to turn around would be as onerous to move forward. Macbeth: “All causes shall give way: I am in blood / Stepp’d in so ar that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er:” (III. IV. 135-137).
The blood represents Macbeth’s hindrances that arose from his pursuit of becoming King of Scotland. Macbeth says that he is so deep into his problems that to try to pull out of them would be as complicated as to continue dealing with them; he realizes that he will have to continue murdering people if he wishes to remain as the king, but Macbeth also realizes that he cannot back out of it at this point, so he figures that he might as well continue with his vile actions.
Act III exemplifies how wicked Macbeth has become because this act demonstrates that he does not mind putting other people’s lives on the line if he wants to stay king due to his greed and ambition. In act IV, blood symbolizes virtue and malice. In act IV, scene III, Malcolm says to Macduff that each day, Scotland is getting thrashed by Macbeth because he rules like a tyrant. Malcolm: “I think our country sinks beneath the yoke; / It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash / Is added to her wounds. I think withal” (IV. II. 39-41).
The blood Scotland is losing each day from leeding represents integrity because it was ruled by Duncan in the past, who, according to Macbeth, was an outstanding king, but now it is under Macbeth’s rule, who is seen as a tyrant. Each day, the state of Scotland is worsening due to Macbeth’s vile actions, which corresponds to how Scotland is bleeding, losing blood, which represents righteousness being lost in turn. In act IV, scene III, Macduff says that Scotland is in turmoil because of Macbeth’s rule. Mcduff: “No, not to live. O nation miserable, / With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d, / When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again” (IV.
III103-105). Macduff mentions that Scotland is turbulent because of Macbeth being the ruler due to his repugnant actions. The blood on the sceptre represents malice because Macbeth’s hold on the Scottish throne is malicious. The reason for this is that Macbeth’s actions are done purely with the intent of causing others to feel pain. This is shown when Macbeth sends murderers to assassinate Macduff’s wife and child in scene IlI of act IV; Macbeth would not benefit from this, yet he still takes their lives, which shows that any trace of morality is gone because he only wants to create urmoil without a second thought.
This act shows how other characters cease to see Macbeth as virtuous person, but instead as a malicious scoundrel because of his wicked actions he performed as a king, and it is further stressed when Macduff fled to England to seek military aid to overthrow Macbeth. Shakespeare utilizes the symbol of blood to display Macbeth’s alteration from a righteous general to a foul tyrant. In act II, blood symbolizes guilt to show how Macbeth still has traces of morality left within him because he endures the trauma from taking Duncan’s life.
Blood represents loathing and Macbeth’s difficulties in act III to display how malicious and driven by ambition Macbeth has become due to the fact that it does not concern him when other people’s lives are lost just so that he can remain as king. In act IV, blood represents benevolence and spite to demonstrate how others fail to see Macbeth as a meritorious figure, but as a barbaric tyrant. The use of symbols places further emphasis on character development. Without the use of blood as a symbol, there would not have been such a prominence on how Macbeth succumbed his ambition and becomes odious.