Imagery In Macbeth Essay

857 words - 3 pages

Imagery in Macbeth

Shakespeare's powerful imagery has never been more apparent than in Macbeth.

He begins the play with a startling image of three witches chanting in a furious

thunderstorm, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air"

(1.1.10-11). The eerie chanting creates a dark, mysterious tone that leaves the reader

feeling uncomfortable and expecting odd and evil things to happen. Later, when

Macbeth and Banquo come across the three weird sisters, the underlying evil creeps back

up when Macbeth says, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen," and Banquo comments,

"What are these So withered, and so wild in their attire, That look not like the inhabitants

o' th' earth" (1.3.38-41). Again the tone is one of dark uncertainty. The reader is forced to

pay close attention through the connotations of pure evil, and Shakespeare uses the

opportunity to relay early in the play Macbeth's motivation and other important

information that will determine the character's fate. The act ends by introducing the evil

incarnate character Lady Macbeth, whose ambition is communicated in her soliloquy,

"...unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty!" (1.5.41-

43). Her plan to make her husband king brings the evil, dark, cold tone full circle for the

desired effect of intriguing the reader and kicking the play into high gear. The tone's

effectiveness can be felt in the reader's desire to proceed deeper into the evil thoughts and

developing plots of the drama.

Act II begins the recurring image of Macbeth's struggle with his decision.

His soliloquy in which he says, "Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward

my hand? Come let me clutch thee...A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding

from the heat-oppressed brain?" (2.1.33-34,38-39). He clearly is not comfortable and the

tone is somber and depressing. Lady Macbeth does not seem to share her husband's

anxiety, but it continues to show when he says, "How is't with me that every noise appalls

me?...Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No; this my

hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine" (2.3.57,59-61). The image of him on

his knees agonizing over his actions strikes hard and clear and the tone is one of remorse

and a wishing for a chance to change the past. The act ends with a feeling of uneasiness

as Malcolm and Donalbain leave the country, and Ross and Macduff converse about

the old king's death and...

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