In Shakespeare's play "Macbeth," imagery is skillfully used to give readers a deeper look into the true character of Macbeth, and in some instances, the character of Lady Macbeth. Though numerous images are used throughout the play, one of the most dominant is blood. By using the image of blood, Shakespeare is better able to develop the character of Macbeth and show how much a character can change.
Near the beginning of the play, after Macbeth and the Scottish army defeat the enemies, a bleeding sergeant comes on stage. The sergeant proceeds to describe the battle and how bravely Macbeth and his friend Banquo fought:.
"For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name) / Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel / Which smoked with bloody execution, / Like Valour's minion carved out his passage- (I. 2. 18-21).
In this passage blood is symbolic of courage and bravery. Bloodshed for a noble cause is often considered to be "good blood." Macbeth's character changes throughout the play are characterized by the symbolism in the blood he sheds. .
When blood is next seen in the play, it is upon the dagger that Macbeth imagines while he is contemplating whether or not to kill Duncan. Describing the dagger, Macbeth says, "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." (II. 1. 54-57).
Macbeth convinces himself to commit the crime, and proceeds to murder the King. However, immediately after he commits this horrible crime, we see that he is deeply regretful of what he has done. Looking at the blood on his hands, Macbeth fears that he will never be clean of it, and that it will dye all the oceans red:.
"What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes! / 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.