Stephanie Schultz Ms. Miller English 16 December 2017 Blood Symbolism in Macbeth “Blood. The color, smell, and texture, is a vital part of life, as well as shocking when seen unexpectedly. The presence of blood in Macbeth continuously us about how serious the consequences of the actions of the characters are. However, all the imaginary blood that is also there, constantly, in the play, is almost more important than the blood that was physically shed. Imaginary blood represents guilt for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It’s not until after King Duncan’s murder that their guilt begins to show. As the heavy guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth grows, so does the blood imagery. Throughout Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’, the recurring image of blood is used as a symbol to show the continuous feelings of guilt felt by the characters, wholly leading up to their demise from fear. Imaginary blood demonstrates immense feeling of remorse and guilt for both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to go wash his hands after they kill Duncan, even though Macbeth told her that an ocean couldn’t wash his guilt away. . They clearly don’t understand that a little water isn’t going to magically make their guilt disappear. Lady’s Macbeth, until her death, struggles with her own imagination. She thinks she is seeing a spot of Duncan’s blood on her hand. In reality, there’s nothing there. However, she persists, saying, “Out, damned spot!” (Mac.5.1.33). However, Macbeth’s guilt really gets our goat here. Macbeth says “Blood will be blood” (Mac.3.4.151) after he finds out that Banquo has successfully been murdered. Macbeth’s feelings on this image he conjures up for us is basically summing up this lesson: Once you start it, there’s really no need for you to stop, because you’re never going to be able to change what happened. AKA, there’s no way you’re wiping out the red in your ledger. Macbeth feels the (obvious) need to hide his feelings and thoughts of guilt in order to prevent even more suspicion from other other characters. This oxymoron of ‘bloody and invisible hand’ also illustrates a strong difference between reality against appearance. It does this by comparing innocence and guilt. The intense image of blood on Macbeth’s hands symbolizes guilt by possibly showing some levels of cruelty or evil. The ‘Invisible hand’ is a representation of concealing the true feelings and thoughts of guilt. Blood Imagery is used to emphasize guilt due to the intensity of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s further crimes. Their evilness and cruelty is an attempt to conceal their ongoing fear – and remorse – for their heinous crimes. Macbeth also feels a lot of remorse for having Banquo killed. When Macbeth has his coronation feast, the ghost of Banquo appears. Macbeth thinks that the ghost is accusing him by haunting him. Macbeth, full of fear and guilt, replies to the ghost with, “Thou canst not say I did it: never shake / Thy gory locks at me” (Mac.3.4.45). One could say that gory locks means that Banquo’s ghost appears bloody, and mangled. This is basically what Macbeth’s soul looks like. Macbeth is accusing himself, therefore his conscience is a hot, gory mess. William Shakespeare also ususes blood symbolism to show that Macbeth accepts his guilt. As he says to Lady Macbeth, “I am in blood / Step’t in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” (Mac.3.4.48). This is a metaphor, comparing his remorse to a pool or swamp. Macbeth says that he has walked so deep into the water, it would be hard to turn around and come back to the shore. This metaphor shows that Macbeth now has a no-turning-back-now attitude. His guilt has consumed him, so he feels like there’s nothing he can do to fix it.William Shakespeare used blood as a strong symbol of many things in ‘Macbeth’. It stood for guilt, fear, and remorse. Blood came as an attitude change for Macbeth too. He started out just going crazy over his sins. However, as the play progressed, we saw him change his attitude to a sort of dry acceptance. We also saw how that one imaginary blood spot on Lady Macbeth’s hand overwhelmed her, leading her to insanity. There is a lot to learn from ‘Macbeth’ and its characters. In the end, your sins and evil deeds will catch up to you, and make bloody your conscience.