Quotes About Blood in Macbeth

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  • 0:02 Why Is Blood Important?
  • 0:57 MacBeth and Blood
  • 3:24 Lady MacBeth and Blood
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

William Shakespeare's play ''Macbeth'' contains many images and quotes about blood. These quotes help develop one of the main themes of the play - guilt. In this lesson, we look at quotes about blood in the play and discuss their importance.

Why Is Blood Important?

From the beginning of Macbeth until the very gory end, blood is everywhere. We see real blood through the battles and murders that take place. Even more importantly, we see imaginary blood that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth envision in the play. This imaginary blood becomes a symbol in the play of the characters' guilt about their actions.

Macbeth pictures blood on the dagger before he kills King Duncan, and both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth worry that they will never be able to clean the blood from themselves. As Lady Macbeth becomes more deranged, her visions of blood became stronger. Sleepwalking, she tries to wash the blood from her hands. In the final act of the play, all the violence and bloodshed ends with Macbeth's bleeding head being carried across the stage.

Macbeth and Blood

Macbeth first experiences his visions of blood in Act II, as he contemplates killing King Duncan. While waiting for the signal to enter the king's chambers, Macbeth sees a dagger before him. As he stares at the dagger, he watches it become covered in blood and says, 'I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood.' This is the first sign that Macbeth feels guilt about the murder he is about to commit. However, he tells himself that it is fine and just the 'bloody business' worrying him.

After Macbeth kills King Duncan, he runs from the chamber and looks at his bloody hands, saying, 'This is a sorry sight.' As Lady Macbeth tries to calm him down and tells him to go back and leave the dagger with the drugged guards, he cannot move. Macbeth continues to feel guilty, staring at his bloody hands, reflecting, 'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?'

During the play, Macbeth's paranoia that someone will find out about the king's murder continues to grow. Eventually, he becomes worried that his friend Banquo will take his place as king. He then plots the murder of Banquo to take place during a banquet he has planned for his noblemen. As the murderers enter, after having killed Banquo, Macbeth notes, 'There's blood on thy face.' Feeling more guilt about this murder, Macbeth soon imagines Banquo's ghost at the banquet. The ghost, not surprisingly, is covered in blood. As he begs the ghost to leave, Macbeth reflects 'they say, blood will have blood.' Macbeth believes that the blood of Banquo will expose him.

When it becomes clear to his men that Macbeth is a murderer, they begin to plot to overthrow him. Macduff even cries over the state of affairs in Scotland, saying, 'Bleed, bleed, poor country!' and later, 'an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd.'

In the last scene of the play, Macbeth is under attack and knows he cannot win. However, he continues to fight, even saying that he likes to make people bleed, 'whiles I see lives, the gashes Do better upon them.' Macbeth has a final moment of guilt before his death when Macduff enters to confront him. Having killed Macduff's family, Macbeth cannot bring himself to kill him, 'get thee back; my soul is too much charged With blood of thine.'

Lady Macbeth and Blood

At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is strong and determined. She seems to feel no remorse as she encourages Macbeth to kill King Duncan and plots the murder with him. On the night of the murder, she tells herself, 'make thick my blood; Stop up the access and passage to remorse.' Lady Macbeth does not want to feel guilty for what she is about to do. She asks for her blood to become thick, and her heart to become cold. She wants to close off her soul so that she does not feel remorse.

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