Shakespeare first uses blood to exemplify Macbeth’s brave and loyal qualities which reflect the concept of an ideal warrior. The play opens with a battle between the Scottish and Norweyan troops. Macbeth, a fierce warrior, “disdain(s) Fortune, with his brandished steel,/ Which smoked with bloody execution” (Shakespeare 1.2.17-8). Macbeth exemplifies his loyalty to the king by bravely facing off other warriors. He is so successful in battle that the medal of his sword exudes heat. The “bloody execution” symbolizes both Macbeth’s fierceness and his respect for the king. Author L.C. Knights explores Macbeth’s heroic downfall and comments that “at this point in the play, Macbeth is at his highest” (34). He emphasizes how men must show respect to their kings to earn respect in his society. Since Macbeth successfully fights for King Duncan, he represents the ideal traits of loyalty and strength. After meeting the witches and learning he `could become king, blood shifts in meaning and begins to reflect the concept of guilt. Macbeth feels paranoid about killing Duncan which is portrayed through the imagery of blood on a dagger. Macbeth’s anxiety over his decisions causes him to hallucinate. In the heat of the moment, Macbeth describes his once heroic dagger and comments on how there is “blood on thy blade that was not there before,” which symbolizes his guilty conscience (Shakespeare 1.7.40). Due to his loyalty to the king, he questions his ability to commit this sin. He feels anxious which is why he imagines the bloody dagger. In the article Duncan, Macbeth and the Thane of Cawdor.” The author comments on how “[t]he mere idea of killing his king leads to the overwhelming guilt” (Hunt 33). Macbeth feels guilty therefore he is not pure evil yet. He at least recognizes the sinfulness of his decision and portrays an overwhelmingly emotion reaction.
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