Blood: Blood appears to symbolise guilt and appears several times. After killing the king, Macbeth claims that all of ‘Great Neptune’s oceans’ cannot wash away the blood from his hands, and the blood will taint the ‘green one red.’ meaning that there is too much blood/ guilt. Macbeth feels uncomfortable with blood on his hands and is ashamed of the sin he has committed. He immediately tries to remove and wash it off after killing the guards. Lady Macbeth in act 5 scene 1 is seen repeatedly washing her hands, asking ‘who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?’ and yelling ‘out damned spot, out!’ to herself, as a doctor and gentlewoman watch and hear her confessing. This is while she is sleepwalking, and is her subconscious thinking that her hands will always be tainted as in act 2 scene 2 she takes the daggers to put them with the guards and her hands ‘are of your colour’ (referring to the blood on Macbeth’s hands).

Weather: Pathetic Fallacy is always used with the witches, and one of the witches asks the others in act 1 scene 1 “where shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” which can be seen as they only appear in dark and stormy conditions. This is used as a Jacobean audience would have believed fully in the supernatural, and thought it was evil and cruel. Shakespeare re-enforces that belief by using pathetic fallacy frequently, and putting them in a bad light. This gives out a message to the audience saying ‘beware the supernatural’. This would have warmed to King James, as he wrote a book about the supernatural called ‘Demonology’, and believed he had personal experience with a witch.

Sleep: Sleep is used often in Macbeth to show a state of relaxed and pure mind. Macbeth claims he will not be able to sleep as ‘Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more!’. Duncan was killed in his sleep, while he was defenceless, which would go against a noble warrior’s morals. Due to this, Macbeth suffers from insomnia and gains a ‘heat-oppressed brain’. Lady Macbeth suffered from sleepwalking, and disrupted sleep. She reveals her vulnerability and is shown as out of control, like guilt has possessed her. Sleepwalking in the Jacobean times was seen as something that happened due to the victim morally sinning and the guilt manifesting in their subconscious

Clothes: In Macbeth, clothes can be seen as representing a title or status of power. Within the midst of act 1 scene 3, Ross and Angus say to Macbeth that he is now the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is confused as he believes the former Thane is still alive and he asks why they both are dressing him in ‘borrowed robes?’. The robes do not actually exist in this scene, but rather represent the title of Thane as a metaphor, and Macbeth believes that the ‘robes’ do not belong to him. Later in the play, Angus claims that Macbeth’s title as king is ‘ill fitting…like a giant’s robe / Upon a dwarfish thief’.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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