Tragedy Of Macbeth From Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
William Shakespear’s Macbeth is a macabre tale of the downfall of a noble man who goes from being revered as “O’ valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!” (I,ii,24)at the beginning of the play to being reviled as “abhorred tyrant” (V, vii, 10) by play’s end. The play unfolds this downward spiral from heroism to villainy with some of Shakespeare’s most dramatic and descriptive language. Shakespeare unifies his tragedy with a number of image patterns which help to create atmosphere, establish theme, and elucidate character.
The imagery of clothing in Macbeth is used to suggest different symbols and establish the background of Macbeth the character. It seems as though Shakespeare used these clothing images to hide and yet reveal the character of Macbeth, “Why do you dress me in borrow’d robes?” (I,iii,113-114) And again in Banqou’s talk “New honours come upon him, Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould but with the aid of use.” (I,ii,144-147) showing how these images are used to hide the “disgraceful self” of Macbeth. Clothing imagery is also used throughout the play in order to create a that devilish tone in the play “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir. (I,iii,141-143) hides Macbeth’s true intentions towards the king and he feelings on what the witches said.
The play is also filled with many references to the night or darkness which would have been used to further explain to Shakespeare’s audiences the mood of deception and that cold tone, considering the fact that the audiences would have been watching this play in the middle of the afternoon. The darkness is set to “hide” the actions of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth “Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,” (I,v,51-52) And again when Macbeth orders Banquo and his son’s death he calls upon the night and darkness to hide his doings, ” Come, seeling night, scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day”(III,ii,52-53) you can see the darkness use to try and “shadow” the wrong doings of Macbeth.
Another image that is used widely throughout the play is that of animals and birds, you can see this in the descriptions of the characters. They are used to round the characters and better develop them, Lady Macbeth states “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent undern’t” (I,v,58-59) saying that Macbeth looks innocent but underneath the skin he is really evil. Macbeth talks of the king “Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf, whose howl’s his watch” (II,ii,60-61) like he is ever alert to what’s going on around him, showing a little remorse, or some second thoughts about actually killing the king. Using the animal images is another way that Shakespeare develops characters and themes.
One other image pattern that was used but not with a great extent, was that of sleep. Used in the play in order to almost create a “guilty” sense coming from Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, with the sleep walking of Lady Macbeth and the not sleeping from Macbeth. “Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtain’d sleep.” (II,i,57-58) showing Macbeth’s inability to sleep, and his apprehension of the things that are to come. “Methought I heard a voice cry Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep the innocent sleep,” (II,ii,34-35), repeats that same feeling of guilt. Also in the sleep walking of Lady Macbeth you get the feeling that she is showing some signs of remorse towards her actions, “The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?” (V,i,36) describes Lady Macbeth’s remorse and concerns over what she’s done.
The image of blood which is probably the most common throughout the play, helping to create a mood of horror and death that draws Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into their own guilt. At first the image of blood is almost set out to be the more “honorable” thing when Duncan says, “What bloody man is that?” (I,ii,1) just put that soldier upon a pedestal showing the honor in dying for your king. Shortly after the reference between blood and honor is made it seems to turn just as quickly as it started and become dishonorable Lady Macbeth starts this off when she asks the spirits to “make thick my blood,”.(II,i) What she is saying by this, is that she wants to make herself insensitive and remorseless for the deeds which she is about to commit. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol, and knows it will deflect the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants when she says “smear the sleepy grooms with blood.”,(II,ii,48-9) and “If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt.”(II,ii,56-580 When Banquo states “and question this most bloody piece of work,”(II,iii,146) and Ross says “is’t known who did this more than bloody deed?”(II,iv,27), they are both inquiring as to who performed the treacherous acts upon Duncan. When Macbeth is speaking about Malcolm and Donalbain, he refers to them as “bloody cousins” (III,i,34)
Shakespeare uses these images as well as his usual finesse of the iambic pentameter to create a very intriguing plot with many twists and turns brought on by the differences in characters, the changing of characters, as well as just those woven into the plot line. Going from the highest honored man to being killed for treason to the same king he once fought for shows the great tragedy of the play, Macbeth, “To-morrow, and To-morrow, and To-morrow, creeps in this petty place from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time;…”(V,v,21-23) this, Macbeth’s most famous line, shows a little sadness from himself towards his actions, now as he realizes that his end is inevitable.