Bloody imagery in ‘Macbeth’

There are many images of blood, murder, torture and physical pain in ‘Macbeth’. Here are some of them:

Duncan to Malcolm
‘What bloody man in that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.’
(Act I Scene 2)

Captain to Duncan
‘For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name –
Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour’s minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave.’
(Act I Scene 2)

Lady Macbeth (soliloquy)
‘The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts! Unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top full
Of direst cruelty; make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!’
(Act I Scene 5)

Macbeth (soliloquy)
‘But in these cases
We still have judgement here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor; this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips.’
(Act I Scene 7)

Lady Macbeth to Macbeth
‘I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.’
(Act I Scene 7)

Macbeth (soliloquy)
‘I see thee still;
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Whic was not so before. There’s no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes.’
(Act II Scene 1)

Lady Macbeth to Macbeth
”Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them, and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.’
(Act II Scene 2)

Macbeth (alone)
‘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 my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.’
(Act II Scene 2)

Lady Macbeth to Macbeth
‘My hands are of your colour, but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
I hear a knocking
At the south entry; retire we to our chamber;
A little water clears us of this deed.’
(Act II Scene 2)

Macduff to court
‘Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple, ans stole thence
The life of the building!’
(Act II Scene 3)

Macduff to court
‘Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.’
(Act II Scene 3)

Macbeth to court
‘Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
And his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
Steep’d in the colours of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breeched with gore.’
(Act II Scene 3)

Ross to Old Man
‘Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man’s act,
Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock ’tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp.
Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame,
That darkness does the face of earth entomb,
When living light should kiss it?’
(Act II Scene 4)

Ross to Macduff
‘Is’t known who did this more than bloody deed?’
(Act II Scene 4)

Macbeth to Lady Macbeth
‘We have scotched the snake, not killed it:
She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.’
(Act III Scene 2)

Macbeth to Lady Macbeth
‘Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,
Ere human statute purged the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
And push us from our stools: this is more strange
Than such a murder is.’
(Act III Scene 4)

 Macbeth to ghost of Banquo
‘Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with.’
(Act III Scene 4)

Macbeth to Lady Macbeth
‘It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augurs and understood relations have
By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
The secret’st man of blood.’
(Act III Scene 4)

Macbeth to Lady Macbeth
‘I am in blood
Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.’
(Act III Scene 4)

Second Apparition (a bloody child)
‘Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.’
(Act IV Scene 1)

Macbeth to Lennox
‘Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits;
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thought with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge of the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do, before this purpose cool:
But no more sights!’
(Act IV Scene 1)

Macduff to Malcolm
‘Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
Like a syllable of dolour.’
(Act IV Scene 3)

Malcolm to Macduff
‘I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds.’
(Act IV Scene 3)

Malcolm to Macduff
‘I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name; but there’s no bottom, none,
Im my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust; and my desire
All continent impediments would o’erbear
That did oppose my will; better Macbeth
Than such a one to reign.’
(Act IV Scene 3)

Macduff to Malcolm
‘O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d,
When shalt thou see they wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accursed,
And does blaspheme his breed?’
(Act IV Scene 3)

Ross to Malcolm and Macduff
‘Alas! poor country;
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be called our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the air
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.’
(Act 4 Scene 3)

Ross to Macduff
‘Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughtered: to relate the manner,
Were, on the quarry of these murdered deer,
To add the death of you.’
(Act IV Scene 3)

Lady Macbeth (sleepwalking)
Out damed spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis tie to do’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard: What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?’
(Act V Scene 1)

Lady Macbeth
‘The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What! will these hands ne’er be clean?’
(Act V Scene 1)

Lady Macbeth
‘Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.’
(Act V Scene 1)

Macbeth (alone)
‘I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my senses would have cool’d
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in’t. I have supp’d full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.’
(Act V Scene 5)

Malcolm (to court)
‘We shall not spend a large expense of time
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honor nam’d. What’s more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exil’d friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace
We will perform in measure, time, and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone.’
(Act V Scene 8)

Simply knowing these quotes is not sufficient for a Higher Level essay on ‘Macbeth’. You must also be able to state the role and function of this bloody imagery, write about why it is included in the play and how it adds to the themes of the play.  Perhaps you may like to comment below to practice writing your opinions on these topics!!

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