The Role of Blood in Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous works. Junior
high students, high school students as well as college students have studied this
popular play over hundreds of years. This story appeals to most readers. It is filled with
murder, guilt and jealousy all at the same time. The Tragedy of Macbeth continues to
relate to similar events and murders of our modern time. Shakespeare’s ability to
summarize the range of human emotions in simple yet profoundly eloquent verse is
perhaps the greatest reason for his enduring prophecy (Millard 2010). Of the many
running themes in the play Macbeth blood has the most significance. The
blood symbolizes more than the difference between life and death. It actually has a
Hidden identity throughout the story. The role blood plays in Macbeth is one of the main
themes, increases as Macbeth’s ambition increases and it empowers Lady Macbeth’s
Blood in the play Macbeth happens to coincide with whatever Macbeth is doing in
the play. Macbeth has a craving for incidents involving blood. This is shown when
Banquo is brutally murdered, in spite of their friendship. Blood
was circulating through Macbeth’s mind which made him deranged enough to kill
anything and anyone which happened to be his friend. The significance of blood caused
him to engage in murder.
Another role that blood plays in Macbeth is that it increases as his ambition
increases. When Macbeth kills his first victim he experiences magnificent excitement.
Blood drives Macbeth’s ambition from the first time he sees blood to when he dies
because the blood is something he wants to see. The sight of blood drives Macbeth’s
ambition. The blood images form a sort of crescendo which conglomerates all of the
murders (Dartman 2010). Thus, the blood imagery is so prevalent during and after the
each murder, and because it tapers off before the wave of the next murder it paces the
wave of action in the play (Dartman 2010).
Blood also empowers Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ambition because it is evident to a
Reader that Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth to kill Duncan, Fleance and Banquo. The
blood flows through the prophecy telling Lady Macbeth to tell Macbeth to kill Duncan.
The blood also controls her when she has to kill the guards. Her quote, “Make thick my
blood; /stop the access and passage to remorse (1.5. 43-44)”, speaks to her request from
the blood to provide her with courage to carry out a deed.
The blood in the play The Tragedy of Macbeth is a running theme of significance.
Unlike several themes throughout the play the blood has many roles. The blood speaks to
characters, empowers the killers and increases ambition. Macbeth’s mental fixation on
symbolism of blood has driven him to commit crimes that he would not otherwise
commit. The constant circulation in his mind leads him in his endeavors of murder. The
blood excites and makes him want to kill repeatedly. Lady Macbeth’s empowerment by
the blood makes her force Macbeth into committing further crimes. The blood is a continuing and running theme. It clearly signifies criminal activity and the emotions
Blood in Macbeth, www.davidartman.com David Dartman, September 27th, 2008, Accessed May 21, 2010.
Millard, Amanda, Why Study Shakespeare, Shakespeare-Online.com, August 20th 2000 Accessed May 18th, 2010.
Shakespeare, William, the Tragedy of Macbeth, 2010