Shakespeare uses many forms of imagery in his plays. Imagery, the art of making images, the products of imagination. In the play Macbeth Shakespeare applies the imagery of clothing, darkness and blood. Each detail in his imagery contains an important symbol of the play. These symbols need to be understood in order to interpret the entire play.
Within the play ‘Macbeth’ the imagery of clothing portrays that Macbeth is seeking to hide his ‘disgraceful self’; from his eyes and others. . Shakespeare wants to keep alive the contrast between the pitiful creature that Macbeth really is and the disguises he assumes to conceal the fact. Macbeth is constantly represented symbolically as the wearer of robes not belonging to him.
He is wearing an undeserved dignity, which is a point well made by the uses of clothing imagery. The description of the purpose of clothing in Macbeth is the fact that these garments are not his. Therefore, Macbeth is uncomfortable in them because he is continually conscious of the fact that they do not belong to him. In the following passage, the idea constantly reappears, Macbeth’s new honors sit ill upon him, like loose and badly fitting garments, belonging to someone else:
New honors come upon him
Like strange garments,
Cleave not to their mould
But with the aid of use (I, iii, 144-145)
This passage is clearly demonstrating that Macbeth cannot fit in these garments. They are not meant to and the clothing imagery is therefor effective.
The second form of imagery used to add to the atmosphere is the imagery of darkness. Macbeth, a Shakespearean tragedy contains and demonstrates the darkness in a tragedy. In the play, the design of the witches, the guilt in Macbeth’s soul and the darkness of the night establish the atmosphere. All of the remarkable scenes take place at night or in some dark spot, for instance; the vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo and Lady Macbeth’s sleep walking. Darkness symbolizes many things such as evil and death in the play. Thus is evident when Macbeth calls on night to come so that he can proceed with Duncan’s murder. Macbeth says:
Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not thee wound makes Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark (I, v, 51-53)
Macbeth calls on thick night to come cloaked in the blackest smoke so that it may not reveal or witness his evil deed and black desires.
Shakespeare uses blood imagery extensively in Macbeth. Blood can represent life, death and often injury. Shakespeare uses blood to represent treason, guilt, murder and death. Lady Macbeth shows the most vivid example of guilt with the use of the imagery of blood, in the scene that she walks in her sleep. She says:
Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One; two; why then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my Lord—fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who Knows it, when none can all out power to account? Yet who have thought the old man to have Had so much blood in him. (V, I, 34-39)
It is ironic that this is said, when right after the murder, when Macbeth was feeling guilty. She says: ‘A little water clears us of the deed.’; (II, ii, 67) It becomes very evident that she is having troubles with her guilt. Also through the blood Macbeth convinces himself to commit the crimes and continue to murder and deceit. This is demonstrated when the return of Banquo as a ghost feels that there is no choice of retracting from evil and so Macbeth says: ‘I am in blood stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more/ Returning were as tedious go o’er.’; (III, iv, 136-138) The blood sheds have have influenced Macbeth into thinking that there is no turning back and he must continue to murder and deceit.
Imagery plays a crucial role in developing of the plot. This is seen through the images of clothing, darkness and blood. Clothing in Macbeth is often compared to positions or ranks. Macbeth’s ambition caused him to strive to improve his social standing. Darkness establishes the evil parts of the play. Blood the most dominant image in the play brings a sense of guilt and violence to the tragedy. It leads Macbeth to continue his deceitful life. Shakespeare makes his use of imagery well known. Without imagery Macbeth may have lacked because imagery gives an effect on the play as a whole.