Throughout the play “Macbeth” William Shakespeare uses many motifs to emphasize themes and develop the plot. One major motif, blood, is used to symbolize heroism and power as well as corruption and evil. As events play out in the story, the title character and his wife both become progressively more unscrupulous and their immoral acts begin to weigh on their conscious. In “Macbeth”, Shakespeare utilizes blood as a motif to illustrate the increasing guilt Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffer as a result of their violent and manipulative actions.
Even before Macbeth commits any crimes, he hallucinates due to the enormous amount of stress he is under. Macbeth’s guilt over his imminent murder manifests itself as a dagger in Act II Scene i lines 45-49, and Macbeth utters, “I see thee still, / And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, / Which was not so before. There’s no such thing. / It is the bloody business which informs / Thus to mine eyes.” The blood spattered on the blade and handle of the dagger imply that the dagger was viciously and maliciously used on someone, foreshadowing the violent and gory act that Macbeth soon carries out. Macbeth even recognizes that the dagger is not real; it is the “bloody business” of the murder that he is about to commit that is causing it to appear before him.
In Act II scene ii lines 78-81, when Macbeth returns to Lady Macbeth after completing Duncan’s murder he cries, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?” After he has committed the horrible deed of murdering his king, Macbeth realizes that he will never be able to wash the blood from his hands, as he will never be able to rid himself of the guilt he feels. No matter if it is a little water or a whole ocean of water, what he has done can never be undone.
As the play progresses, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth continue to perform nefarious deeds and their guilt greatly increases as do...