Macbeth Motifs

Published: 2021-08-06 10:45:06
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Another prominent example of appearance vs. reality in Macbeth is the entire scene of Scene five in Act one when Lady Macbeth lures Duncan into her castle. During this scene Lady Macbeth behaves like an “innocent flower while being the serpent underneath” by accepting Duncan into her house happily, making him believe she was a loyal subject to him all-the-while plotting his death. The last example of appearance vs. reality in Macbeth is in Act four Scene three when Malcolm meets Macduff in England, he is initially wary of him.
To test his integrity, Malcolm pretends to have very low moral values and pretends to be a womanizer, greedy, and dishonorable; yet it reality, Malcolm is just the opposite. In Act one Scene two of Macbeth, blood was the second motif presented. Blood is displayed everywhere in the play Macbeth beginning with the opening battle between Scotland and Norway when the “bloody” or bleeding captain arrives. Before Macbeth and Lady Macbeth commenced upon their murdering voyage, blood began to symbolize their guilt. At the end of Act two Scene one, Macbeth has a soliloquy as he “sees” a floating bloody dagger.
One can also deduce that the “dagger” soliloquy is also a part of the motif appearances vs. reality: Macbeth might be seeing the dagger only as a result of the impending guilt and crime he was about to commit. As the play continues, blood comes to symbolize their guilt, and Macbeth begins to feel that their crimes have stained them in a way that cannot be washed clean. In Act two Scene two Macbeth cries after killing Duncan “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather/ the multitudinous seas incarnadine…” (II. ii, lines 58-61).
Regardless of this guilt, Macbeth continues to murder numerous people resulting in the motif, blood, appearing again. In Act five Scene one, Lady Macbeth begins to experience suppressed guilt as well when she starts to sleep walk. While Lady Macbeth sleep walks she talks to herself and continuously rubs her hands in a washing motion in order to get rid of the blood only she can see. Similar to the “dagger” soliloquy, Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene can also be considered a part of the motif appearances vs. reality since the blood she is trying to wash away isn’t there.
In Act one Scene three of Macbeth, the motif darkness is the third motif presented. Throughout the entire play, with the exception of Act one Scene six, darkness was the main “setting”, providing the play with an ominous and eerie mood. One can deduce that this motif was also used to unsuccessfully shield the evil doings of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Darkness is first introduced or inferred to when Macbeth states that the weather was horrible in Act one Scene three. Darkness is also presented in Act one Scene five when Lady Macbeth calls on darkness to shield all eyes to her wicked acts.
In Act two Scene four, it is made apparent that Darkness has come along with other abnormalities after Duncan was killed when Ross says, “By Th’ clock ‘tis day/ and yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp: Isn’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame/ That darkness does the face of the earth entomb/ When living light should kiss it? ” (II. iv, lines 6-9). Although darkness was called by Lady Macbeth for protection, it eventually turns against her, making her afraid of the darkness. This can be deduced because of the constant candle she carries around while sleepwalking in Act five scene one.
One can also deduce that in the final scene and act of the play, the darkness that has plagued Scotland disperses with the death of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Throughout the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, motifs play a central role as a way to display important actions, scenes, and lines. The three motifs, appearances vs. reality, blood, and darkness, are the most prominent motifs since they add structure and entirety to the play. One can presume that the three motifs are essential to the characters and settings edifice. Works Cited Shakespeare, William, and Eugene M. Waith. The Tragedy of Macbeth;. New Haven: Yale UP, 1954. Print.

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