What are some symbols in Act 3 in Macbeth?

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sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play Macbeth focuses primarily on the psyche of a killer in pursuit of power. Act three primarily deals with the paranoia of this killer. One of the most important symbols throughout the entirety of the play Macbeth is the symbol of blood. In Act 3, Macbeth continues to ponder the significance of blood and the affect that bloodshed is having on his life and will have on his future. 

After killing Duncan, Macbeth is ridden with fear - fear that he will lose the throne. At the banquet after killing Banquo, Macbeth notes "blood they say; blood will have blood." This line means that Macbeth must take the offense against potential enemies for the blood that he has already spilt will lead to his own demise.  Blood throughout symbolizes the blot on Macbeth and his wife's consciences. They cannot escape their guilt since the first murder, and with every murder, each character becomes more and more paranoid and crazed from their guilt. 

In this scene, the ghost is also a symbol of the physical representation of Macbeth's guilt. The ghost further causes fear and paranoia in Macbeth. The apparition also causes Macbeth's guilt and crazed condition to be conveyed publicly to his guests. 


salimj | Student

There are a lot of images and symbols in Act 3 of Macbeth. I am trying to explain 3 of these symbols which is used in this world famous play.

  1. Night and darkness is used as symbols in line 137. They represent hiding and distancing. “ Of the dark hour resolve yourselves apart” (Line 137)
  2. Symbol of human nature and human reaction also is used in this act. It also makes reference to fear because Macbeth is engaging in a conversation with the murders.

“ Do you find

Your patience so predominant in human nature

That you can let this go” ( Lines 85-87)

  1. A symbol of predator hunting down a prey is also used in this act.

“ We have scotched the snake not killed it” (Line 13)