Symbolic Role of Eyes and Hands
Symbols are used throughout literature to express various meanings and ideas. William Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, uses several symbols to explore a multitude of qualities of human nature. Eyes and hands are significant symbols that are continually used throughout the play. The eyes represent the knowledge of deeds, both past and present, and a person’s true thoughts and intentions, while the hand represents the person’s actions. Eyes and hands bring up the motif of sightlessness, one of the common curses from the witches, which is mentioned by Macbeth several times throughout the play. They play a large role in developing the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth by revealing a number of characteristics of human nature, specifically the duplicity, blindness, and conscience of humans. Eyes and hands are used to display the duplicitous nature of humans. When Lady Macbeth says, “bear welcome in your eye, // Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower // But be the serpent under ‘t, “ (I, v, 63-65) she advises Macbeth to act deceitful by making sure his eyes are welcoming and not showing his true desires. In numerous religions and cultures, eyes are considered to be the window into the soul that show all thoughts and desires desires and are related to prophecy. Macbeth has recently received the witches’ prophecy that states that he will become King. He must show false thoughts in his eyes to ensure that Duncan does not see his true intentions and the prophecy foretold. If Duncan were to find out Macbeth’s true aim, then Duncan would not stay and Macbeth would not be able to murder the King. Lady Macbeth realizes the importance of this and uses the symbol of eyes to encourage Macbeth to act duplicitous. The hand is used to represent the actions that Macbeth performs. Lady Macbeth tells him that he must be welcoming in his actions and not show any traces of the crimes he is going to commit. Furthermore, Macbeth and...
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