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One of the themes in the tragedy of Macbeth is that of blood. Macbeth is known for his skills as a warrior and his mercilessness that is shown in his killing of MacDonwald. This warrior mentality quickly spreads into his life, and he begins to make killing a habit. When he is told in a prophecy that he shall be king, Macbeth takes it upon himself to murder Duncan, king of Scotland. After this murder he begins to see visions of blood on his hands, blood nothing could remove. As Macbeth becomes more ambitious, he also begins to kill more people to get the power that he wants. The theme of blood is shown throughout the play, and is a problem that Macbeth finds harder and harder to rid himself of after each killing.
At the beginning of the play Macbeth is an esteemed member of the army, probably the greatest fighter in all of Scotland. He gets word that a rebellious tribe led by MacDonwald is defeating the Scots. He “single-handedly” defeats the rebels and “unseamed him (MacDonwald) from the nave to th’ chops.” With this Macbeth earns great respect among his peers, and even the king.
On his way home from war three witches tell him his future. “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All Hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” Macbeth was already thane of Glamis, and wondered why they would say that he would be Thane of Cawdor or even king, so he blew it off as tomfoolery, and impossible. However, he was later told by the king that because of his valiant fighting against MacDonwald that he was to be given the title of the Thane of Cawdor.
All this makes him think again of the witches prophecies, and he wonders if indeed he could be king. The desire for power began to consume Macbeth and his wife, and this ambition caused all of the bloody events that were to follow. Macbeth began to want the kingship that Duncan had more and more. Together Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth plotted to hurry Macbeth’s reign, by killing Duncan themselves. At night Macbeth gains access to Duncan’s sleeping quarters, kills the guards, and stabs King Duncan to death.
After the murder, Macbeth is clearly shaken, and can hardly believe what he has done. He says. ”What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; this mine will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine making the green one red.” Macbeth thinks that nothing will wash his hands clean, they will turn the ocean red. Lady Macbeth tells him that he is worrying too much, and that he should wash his hands and go to bed. Macbeth takes his guilty conscience with him to bed and wishes that he had not done what he had done. The blood on his hands is symbolic of the guilt that he feels.
Although at times Macbeth feels guilty for his actions, that guilt is not a deterrent, it just made him feel as though he could get away with anything. However, he soon became very paranoid. He begins to worry about Banquo and Fleance possibly taking over the throne, so he plots to kill them. He succeeds in killing his friend Banquo, but Fleance escapes. Then at a banquet to honor Banquo, Macbeth again sees visions, this time they are visions of a bloody ghost of Banquo. Again revealing his guilt. He says to the ghost, ” Avaunt and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee! Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold.
Paranoia sets in again, and Macbeth plans yet another murder. This time aimed toward Macduff, but Macduff fled to Scotland to get Malcom’s help. They both return to confront Macbeth, but, now Macbeth is left to defend his castle by himself. Macbeth kills Malcom and tells Macduff that his blood cannot be shed by anyone that was born of a woman. Macduff accepts the challenge and slays Macbeth, for he was untimely ripped from the womb.
Macbeth’s ambition causes him to do many things that he would have not otherwise done; a fault that many of us have, he just took it to the extreme. The blood that stained Macbeth reminded him of all the wrongdoing he had done. The blood represented the errors in his ways. Blood represents life, and when you are bleeding in such a way that the sea could not soak up your blood, you are a man destined to die. The blood represents the life, death, and penance of the great Macbeth.