Clean from my Hand
I believe that the most prominent of the many motifs in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” was blood. Blood appears in nearly every scene, if not physically then at least as an idea. It is like a presence lurking in the background at every moment, waiting to make its grand appearance.
In the opening scene of Macbeth, blood as well as grime covers the captain, who has just gotten back from one of the bloodiest battles of Scotland to that date. King Duncan even goes so far as to ask, “What bloody man is that?” Macbeth has just killed and beheaded the leader of the opposing army; in the beginning, blood is a symbol of honor and victory. This, however, is all about to change as soon as Macbeth meets the witches.
The witches tell Macbeth he shall receive the title Thane of Cawdor, and will then become King of Scotland. Immediately after, they tell Banquo he shall sire a line of kings. Macbeth may have been a bit skeptical at first, but when he was given the title Thane of Cawdor his misgivings about the witches’ prophecy fled. When he told Lady Macbeth about the witches prophecy, she realized that their only choice was to kill the king and seize power for themselves. Before she reveals the plan to Macbeth she prays to the gods, asking them to make thick her blood, as thicker blood was thought of as blood that had been poisoned while thinner blood was pure, innocent, and wholesome. She conveys plan to Macbeth and though she was the one who pressed and persuaded him to get it done, he was the one to wield the blade and strike the fatal blow. He finishes the murder and returns to Lady Macbeth, still carrying the dagger with his hands and arms covered in blood. He barely notices here, and quietly says, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine/ Making the green one red.” In contrast, when Lady Macbeth returns from...