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Macbeth Blood Essay

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"What bloody man is that?" in these, the opening words of the play's second scene, King Duncan asks about a sergeant. The sergeant then tells the story of Macbeth's heroic victories over Macdonwald and the King of Norway. The sergeant's telling of the story is in itself heroic, because his loss of blood has made him weak. Thus his blood and his heroism seem to enhance the picture of Macbeth as a hero. As Lady Macbeth plans to kill King Duncan, she calls upon the spirits of murder to "make thick my blood; stop up the access and passage to remorse." Thin blood was considered wholesome, and it was thought that poison made blood thick. Lady Macbeth wants to poison her own soul, so that she can kill without remorse.

Macbeth says "this is a sorry sight", looking at his bloody hands moments after he has murdered King Duncan. His wife thinks that's a stupid thing to say, and when she notices that he has brought the bloody daggers from King Duncan's room, she thinks he's even more stupid. She tells him that he must take the daggers back, place them with the King's sleeping guards, and cover them with the King's blood. Macbeth, however, is so shaken that all he can do is stand and stare at his bloody hands, so Lady Macbeth takes the daggers from him. When she goes to do the job she thinks he should do, Macbeth still stands and stares. He asks himself if all the water in the world can wash away the blood "will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" and he answers his own question, "no, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red."

His wife thinks his obsession with blood shows that he's a coward. She dips her hands in the dead King's blood, and covers the guards with the blood, then tells Macbeth that "my hands are of your color; but I shame to wear a heart so white." She means that now her hands are bloody, like his, but she would be ashamed to have a bloodless and cowardly heart like his. She leads him away to wash his hands, and she seems quite sure that a little water clears them of the deed they have done. Ironically, when she later goes mad, she sees blood on her hands that she cannot wash away, no matter how much water she uses.

Telling Malcolm and Donalbrain of their father's murder, Macbeth says "the spring, the head, the fountain of your blood is stopped; the very source of it is stopped." Here, the primary meaning of "your blood" is "your family," but Macbeth's metaphors also picture blood as a life giving essence. A second later, blood is spoken of as a sign of guilt. Lennox says that it appears that the King was murdered by his body guards, because they were covered in blood. In another second, blood appears as the precious clothing of a precious body, when Macbeth, justifying his killing of the guards, describes the King's dead body as "here lay Duncan, his silver skin laced with his golden blood." Then Donalbain says to his brother "the near in blood, the nearer bloody," meaning that as the murdered King's sons, they are likely to be murdered themselves.

It's strangely dark on the morning after the night of King Duncan's murder, and Ross says to an old man "ah, good father, thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man's act, threaten his bloody stage." The "stage" is this earth, where we humans play out our lives. Because of Duncan's murder, the stage is bloody and the heavens are angry. Moments later, Macduff enters and Ross asks him "is't known who did this more than bloody deed?" The deed is more than bloody because it is unnatural. The King Duncan was a good and kind man whose life naturally should have been cherished by everyone.

Macbeth appears as King of Scotland mentions to Banquo in a seemingly casual way that Malcolm and Donalbain, "our bloody cousins," are in England and Ireland where they are denying that they killed their father. By referring to them as "bloody", Macbeth wants to emphasize their guilt. After Banquo leaves, Macbeth arranges for his murder. Macbeth tells his wife that by nightfall a deed will done which will release them from their fear of Banquo. Then he calls upon night to come and "with thy bloody and invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale!" The "great bond" is Banquo's lease on life. A man becomes pale with fear or worry because the blood drains away from his face.

Macbeth believes that if Banquo's blood is shed, his own blood will return, and he won't be pale anymore. After he has become king, Macbeth gives a banquet for his noblemen. The banquet has barely begun when Macbeth has to go to the door to speak with first murderer. "There's blood on thy face," he says and the murderer proudly tells him its Banquo's blood, and that he left Banquo in a ditch with "twenty trenched gashes on his head," all deadly. A little later, just as Macbeth is talking about how much he wishes that Banquo were at the banquet, Banquo's Ghost appears. Macbeth says to the ghost, "thou canst not say I did it; never shake thy gory locks at me." The ghost's "gory locks" are the locks of his hair, covered with clotted blood. After the ghost has gone, Macbeth tells himself that it's not his fault that the ghost showed up.

He says that men have been killing men for a long time, since before there were even laws against it; "blood hath been shed ere now, I the olden time, ere human statute purged the gentle weal." It's a natural thing to shed blood; what's not natural is that now the dead "rise again, with twenty mortal murders on their crowns, and push us from our stools." After saying this, Macbeth recovers himself, returns to his guests and proposes a toast in honor of Banquo. At that, the Ghost of Banquo reappears. This time, Macbeth tries to drive it away with words, "avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee! thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold." Macbeth is making sure that the Ghost knows that it belongs in the grave because it is dead. Perhaps the ghost actually listens to Macbeth, because it soon leaves again.

Macbeth then wonders why the sight of the ghost hasn't driven the blood from everyone's face. He asks them how "you can behold such sights, and keep the natural ruby of your cheeks, when mine is blanched with fear." Apparently he doesn't realize that only he has seen the ghost. Finally, after all the guests are gone, Macbeth says "they say, blood will have blood." The saying means that



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