What is a tragic theme in Shakespeare's "Macbeth"?

Asked on by corahealy

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paiblauer | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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There are many tragic themes in "Macbeth." One that is particularly fascinating is that of blood and bloodshed.

Macbeth is a savage and merciless warrior who murders several characters throughout the story. When he notifies Malcolm and Donalbain of their father's murder, Macbeth says, "The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood / Is stopp'd; the very source of it is stopp'd" (2.3.98-99). Macbeth’s use of "your blood" takes on a triple meaning – it is physical blood, and a metaphor for family, and a means through which life can occur and be taken away.

After Macbeth murders King Duncan, he remarks on the redness of his hands from the King’s blood. Lady Macbeth leads him away to wash his hands, metaphorically trying to mollify his guilt by cleansing his hands of the blood and washing away the signs of guilt.


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