How symbolism is used to develop appreciation of key themes
Blood is something we as human beings all need in order to survive and is something that we continuously rely on to ensure our survival. In William Shakespeares ‘Macbeth’ the use of the symbolism of blood is developed to help us appreciate key themes and ideas of paranoia, insanity and guilt these help us as the reader to develop further understanding and contribute to highlighting important moments throughout the text that we are able to relate to as human beings in todays society as they were also able to relate to in Shakespeares time.
Shakespeare introduces the symbolism of blood through the main character of the text Macbeth. The symbolism of blood is seen through Macbeths character throughout the text as it highlights his paranoia. Paranoia haunts Macbeths character because of the several murders that he carries out while on his murderous rampage where his ambition of power and becoming the King leads him to becoming a cold blooded murderer. When Macbeth says “Will great neptunes ocean wash this blood from my hand” it highlights his paranoia he is feeling. The ‘blood’ on Macbeths hand further emphasises the guilt and paranoia Macbeth feels. By wishing for great neptunes ocean to wash the blood from his hand we can further interpret that he wants the feeling of paranoia to be washed away. The ocean which is often symbolic of purity and blood of evil shows how he is wanting the evil in him to be replaced with purity. As human beings we often like Macbeth have to make choices this is an example of how the choices that we make can have consequences. The paranoia that Macbeth has to deal with highlights the consequence of his actions, in Macbeths case his ambition for power affected his decisions and choices he made. Shakespeares intent is to show us how much power and control can change a person and their mindset.
Blood is also used to symbolise and show appreciation to another key theme in the text of insanity. Insanity in the text is used as a key theme to symbolise blood as well as the character of Lady Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth is driven to a point of insanity she hallucinates blood on her hands that she tries to scrub off frantically, her frustration is shown when she says “out damned spot”. Shakespeares purpose was to highlight how her insanity has driven her to a point where she is hallucinating blood on her hands. Lady Macbeth frantically trying to scrub her hands free of blood how the guilt she has been carrying has driven her to become insane and how desperate she is to get free from the insanity and guilt she is carrying with her that she cannot seem to get free from. We can appreciate how the the symbolise helps us to develop further understanding through the use of insanity within Lady Macbeths character, it shows how when one is driven to insanity it can change everything about a person and the way they act. The theme of insanity also highlights the downfall of ambition and how it can be the consequence when ambition gets the better of a person this is seen in todays society especially politically when a person gains power and just chase more constantly without realising how their actions have consequences that do not just affect them but other people as well.
The symbolism of blood is used to help appreciate the theme of guilt. Guilt is shown in particular throughout the text in both characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who end up both being victims of guilt. Lady Macbeth is a victim of guilt because her ambition for power too got the best of her. When she says “Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him”. Blood which is symbolic of the key theme of guilt shows that Lady Macbeths drive for power got the better of her when they killed Duncan. She never realised that the murder of Duncan would leave her carrying so much guilt with her. We appreciate the theme of guilt because it helps us to understand Lady Macbeths character and how guilt ridden she is over the choices that she makes and no matter how hard she tries to get rid of her guilt it is stuck with her as one of the consequences of her ambition. Shakespeares intent shows us how we all face guilt as human beings and it isn’t something that just disappears when we wish for it to and it sticks with us. It also emphasises once again how the choices we make have consequences such as the guilt that Lady Macbeth had to live with.
Shakespeares symbolic use of blood throughout the text helped us to appreciate the key themes of guilt, paranoia and insanity. These themes help us to gain deeper understanding of the characters such as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as well as the overall symbolism of blood. This understanding helped us to be able to relate to the characters through theme that many in society today would have faced or seen others face that Shakespeare emphasises throughout the text.