What are some symbols in Act 3 in Macbeth?

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Animal symbolism is particularly important in Act 3 of Macbeth. In the previous act, Ross and the Old Man discussed the horses eating each other as nature's response to Macbeth's murder of Duncan. In Act 3, the animals come to represent humans. Macbeth compares the Murderers to...

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Animal symbolism is particularly important in Act 3 of Macbeth. In the previous act, Ross and the Old Man discussed the horses eating each other as nature's response to Macbeth's murder of Duncan. In Act 3, the animals come to represent humans. Macbeth compares the Murderers to dogs, saying that they count as men just as all kind of dogs, high and low, are still called dogs. This comparison symbolizes that they are vicious, like animals attacking. When he says, "we have scorched the snake, not killed it," he refers to Duncan, whom he sees as not really having died until the evidence of his murder is entirely erased. Until then, he will poison Macbeth's sanity, just like a snake poisons with its venom. "The crow mak[ing] wing to the rooky wood" represents Banquo, who is riding through the woods on his way back to Macbeth's castle. As a crow, he is a symbol of doom for Macbeth. Macbeth also says that his mind is "full of scorpions," meaning his many enemies: MacDuff, Banquo, Fleance, Malcolm, Donalbain, etc. Note that it is Macbeth who makes all these comparisons. He does not see other people, except for Lady Macbeth, as being human like himself. At this point in the play, he sees them as wild animals who must be killed or tamed.

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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. 

 

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