Life, passion, violence, and death have one idea in common: blood. Reoccurring symbols often enforce greater significances to a plot in a grander scheme. Readers are able to experience a representation visually, sensually, and emotionally when motifs are utilized to their highest potential. In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the brutal imagery of blood to illustrate honor, betrayal, and guilt. In literature, blood traditionally represents the essence of life in a physical sense because it is a sign that bodies remain living here on Earth.
Blood can also symbolize the mortality of a person or a living being, illustrating that they are able to experience pain and death. In an outwardly expressive sense, blood symbolizes passion, violence, and pain. These are appropriate portrayals of how blood is used because of its universality. This symbol can be recognized and depicted even in the most basic sense by beings worldwide. In medical history, bloodletting was a widely accepted practice in order to cure disease.
It was a common idea that blood carried the vital force of the body and directly affected the soul. Therefore, bloodletting was a method used to balance the body and cleanse it of impurities. Although this practice was not successful in obtaining its purpose, it stemmed from the idea that blood is vitality. In many contexts, including Shakespeare’s Macbeth, blood communicates and establishes a role of critical human events and sensations.
The use of blood in the beginning of the play signifies honor and power. At the battlegrounds, “brave Macbeth – well as he deserves that name – disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution” chopped his way through Macdonwald (I. ii. 16-18). Macbeth has done so much damage which has brought pride in Duncan’s eyes about Macbeth’s valiant loyalty and courage in putting a stop to the rebellion. Shakespeare uses the image of blood to validate Macbeth’s heroism and fearlessness.
The outpouring of the enemy’s blood is a token of success and triumph in war. Macbeth’s strength is amplified with increasing violence. Readers are able to see Macbeth’s overworked tool smoking with confidence, hear the moans of the penetrated opponents, and smell the bleak and gory aromas of the battle. Shakespeare’s use of this image was highly effective because the description of Macbeth’s actions portrayed the kind of man Macbeth was, even before the audience officially met Macbeth.