Macbeth Symbolism

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 490
Topics: Book, Macbeth, Symbolism

In the classic play “Macbeth,” the genius playwriter William Shakespeare introduces many symbols into his writing to enhance the story of a Scottish general. He uses the expressions of blood, water, light and dark themes, uncontrolled animals, and even the portraits of witches to create depth in his play. These symbols often recur and are directly connected with the play’s central plot.

The symbolism of blood in “Macbeth”

For instance, the author uses blood on several occasions. It is first mentioned by Macbeth shortly after he had just slaughtered Duncan, the former King of Scotland. The subject of blood was raised many times in the blood, in such instances, like when Lady Macbeth brought up Duncan’s murder.

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In the circumstances discussed above, blood was used to symbolize the guilt and despair that Macbeth and his wife were carrying on their back due to the protagonist’s murderous actions that eventually possessed Macbeth and drove Lady Macbeth to commit suicide.

While blood can be perceived as a symbol of death, regret, and pain, surely water symbolizes cleansing and peace and is used as an opposite to the product of violent activities across many literary pieces. Even in the Bible, Pontious Pilate cleaned his hands in water after deciding to sentence Jesus to be crucified.

Macbeth, acknowledging his wrongdoings, proclaims that all the water in the sea would turn red from the blood on his hands. We can make a conclusion that blood was a significantly more powerful symbol than water throughout the course of this play.

The usage of dark and light in the play

In Macbeth, Shakespear used light and dark in a literal sense. Light symbolizes everything good and pure, and it is no coincidence that the author used bright settings when scenes include Banquo or other innocent characters in this play. On the contrary, a dark setting was used in a scene involving murder or supernatural forces, such as the scenes involving the 3 witches and their predictions.

The strange-acting animals periodically discussed throughout the play were used to illustrate the chaos. When Macbeth murdered Duncan, Shakespeare used these irate animals to show that something horrible and irreconcilable had occurred in the kingdom. The portrayal of these animals could symbolize the restlessness that Macbeth was personally experiencing due to the witches’ prophetic. Furthermore, the Witches themselves can be interpreted as symbolizing the supernatural, which was highly influential at the time when Shakespear created this play.


Shakespeare used symbols in “Macbeth” in many ways throughout the course of the classic play. Blood, Water, Light, Dark, Animals, and the supernatural were the most used motives. The symbols recurred throughout the play and were used so that the audience could feel the emotions of the characters. Shakespeare’s s smart usage of symbols in his writing is a big reason why he has become one of the greatest playwrights of all time and has eternalized the performance of his plays for future generations.

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  1. Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.
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