Power corrupts man, yet man corrupts power. In the play Macbeth, power corrupted Macbeth and with that, Macbeth corrupted power, and all that he touched. During the play, Macbeth gains power of lands, he becomes greedy for more power, and this greed leads to his demise. Besides corrupting power, Macbeth corrupts many other things, such as the Great Chain of Being, and the symbol of blood. Blood begins as a sign of honor, yet quickly changes to treachery. That same blood again changes meaning to guilt, a guilt felt by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Then at the end, just as the Great Chain of being is restored, so is the meaning of honor to blood. Shakespeare's use of blood produces a tangible symbol to which all can relate too. The word blood was said forty-two times, actually, and coincidently, so was fear. Throughout Macbeth, the reoccurring theme of blood symbolizes honor, yet Macbeth and Lady Macbeth turn that symbol from honor to treachery, to guilt, but in the end, back to honor.
How quickly things change. In the opening of the play, the king, Duncan, asks, "What bloody man is that?" (I. ii. 1) The king is inquiring about a brave fighter, who has been injured during the battles. The soldier reports to the king about Macbeth's sword is " smoked with bloody execution." (I. ii. 18) Again, the reference of blood is made, linking blood to honor, the honor Macbeth gains from his victories in battle. Just as Macbeth gains honor through blood, Lady Macbeth turns the meaning of blood to treachery all in the first act of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth calls upon the spirits, " to make thick my blood- (I. iv. 31) The symbol of blood now becomes a treacherous symbol, Lady Macbeth knows this, and refers to using the blood as a decoy by smearing " the sleepy grooms (servants) with blood." (II. ii. 48-49) Thus, the image of blood has changed from honor to treachery, and just as disrupting the great chain of being, disrupting the role of blood will cause dire consequences for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.