Macbeth Motifs

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When it comes down to it, humans are mammals, and there are some animalistic traits that every mammal shares. The story of Macbeth by Shakespeare includes a theme that is the epitome of a trait that all mammals share, weak versus strong. Through the use of metaphors including birds, the symbolism of Macbeth as an owl throughout the story, and the juxtaposition between birds, weak versus strong is represented by the motif of birds in Macbeth. Birds are incorporated into other literary elements that Shakespeare utilizes, showing the true depth of his writing.

Metaphors allow the reader to paint a picture of written words referencing images that they are familiar with. Like any other animal, there is a hierarchy of strength and therefore power for birds. The metaphors that Shakespeare incorporates into Macbeth including birds allow the reader to reference their experience with strong birds fighting to create an image of what the humans in the story might have been fighting like. A captain describes how valiantly Macbeth fought in the battles in the beginning of the story, saying that he was “as sparrows eagles”, which paints a picture of a valiant and strong eagle fighting a small, meek sparrow (1.2.35-42). However, later in the story, when Macbeth’s position shifts and he is no longer perceived as a noble soldier but rather as a tyrannical ruler preying on those he controls, birds are used in a metaphor again to illustrate a changed image of Macbeth. “A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,” representing honor and innocence, “was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed,” illustrating an evil bird using its strength to overpower and kill an innocent bird (2.4.11-14).Sometimes, a reader does not glean the true meaning of an object in a story until after it has been illustrated throughout the entirety of the work of literature. Throughout the uses of birds in Macbeth, including the imagery and metaphors, a pattern occurs where a powerful owl is preying on weaker...
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