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What are the symbols, from Macbeth, which represent Macbeth?I already have bloody hands...

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aznforce123 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM via web

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What are the symbols, from Macbeth, which represent Macbeth?

I already have bloody hands and sleep.

Please help me!

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM (Answer #1)

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There are many different symbols, found in William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth, which one can align with the protagonist Macbeth.

As stated in the question, both bloody hands and sleep are symbols one can align with Macbeth. Outside of those, another important symbol is clothing.

Clothing references in Macbeth

Act I, scene iii:

The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me
In borrow'd robes?

Here, Macbeth is aligning his address as the Thane of Cawdor (by the witches) to his clothing. He refers to this address as if he were wearing the Thane's clothing and not his own.

Banquo solidifies this symbol by illuminating the reference even further. He, too, recognizes the title placed upon Macbeth through his use of the phrase "strange garments."

New honors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould But with the aid of use.

Act I, scene vii:

When Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are speaking about the murder of Duncan, so that Macbeth can gain the throne, he states that he has just recently gotten his Thane of Cawdor title and does not want to give that up too quickly.

Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.

Act II, scene iv:

Here, Macduff makes another clothing reference to Macbeth. He is not happy with the placement of the crown (with Macbeth) and is stating that he was far happier with his position under Duncan than Macbeth.

Well, may you see things well done there, Adieu,
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!


Act V, scene ii:

In this scene, Angus makes another reference to Macbeth's clothing.

Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.

Angus hopes that Macbeth feels the weight of the world on his shoulders given he cannot "fit" into the robe of Duncan. The last part of the quote refers to both Macbeth's wrongful taking of the crown and his inability to be the real man he needs to be.

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