Macbeth what the role that blood plays in macbeth, particulary following Duncan's murder and late in the play what does blood symbolize for macbeth and his wife?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Blood, blood, blood!  The entire play is "a bloody" situation, with the pun upon the British meaning of this word. Macbeth is a notoriously violent drama;there is absolute carnage, a wading in blood by the warriors.  In the beginning, Macbeth eviscerates his victim Macdonaldwald; at the end he is beheaded.

Blood has a myriad of meanings as a symbol and every one fits in Shakespeare's play:  life, death, kinship, extreme passion, cruelty, barbarism, sin, guilt [as in the expression "the blood is on them"], villainry, the occult--they are all there.

literaturenerd's profile pic

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

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As mentioned in the previous posts, blood represents both life and guilt in the play. While initially, Macbeth feels the guilt, it is not until later that Lady Macbeth understands the seriousness of her part in the plan to murder Duncan. Her inability to get out the "damned spot" shows her guilt is more than superficial.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Blood in this play often symbolizes Macbeth's sense of guilt, as well as his feeling that his guilt cannot be easily erased or "washed off." He is, at first, a murderer and criminal who is highly aware of his crimes. Blood also symbolizes his growing tyranny and disrespect for others and his cruelty toward them.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Blood is always a symbol for life -- it is what literally keeps the human body alive. Blood can also symbolize passion or emotionality (as opposed to mind which represents intellect and rationality). In this play, blood represents life and ambition for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but it ends up representing guilt, especially for Lady Macbeth for her part in motivating the assassination -- a terrible, bloody act.

bhawanipur's profile pic

bhawanipur | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In 'Macbeth', blood is used as a symbol but at the same time it also helps the playwright to give an analysis of the minds of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Initially, Macbeth was not ambitious that he would kill Duncan for the throne. It was the witches first which symbolises evil only, to instigate Macbeth by their tricky predictions. Macbeth could not understand them and when he told about the presictions to his wife, she was the second to instigate and inspire Macbeth to conspire and act against Duncan.

Thus blood symbolises "blood for blood". His mind did not allow to act thus and yet he did it. Therefore, he suffered from mental agony. But his wife was more ambitious and cruel to have anything she wanted. That is why she tells Macbeth to wash his hand and not to worry. A little water will clean that. Its true a little water can help them but not the agony in mind. Blood stands for mental agony thinking about consequences of misdeeds.