A Bloody Night




William Shakespeare once said, “For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, who art as black as hell, as dark as night.” Deception plays a big part in the play Macbeth. The play is about a king who is murdered by one of his most trusted men trying to gain power. During the play Shakespeare heightens the mood by using various accounts of imagery. The blood and night imagery that Shakespeare uses adds to the evil, darkness and deception surrounding the play.

Night has a role of great importance during the play. Lady Macbeth beckons, “Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry "Hold, hold!" Without the obscurity of night, she would not have urged Macbeth to kill the king as she did. The night, however, gives her the impression that Macbeth can indeed kill King Duncan with no one uncovering his contemptible crime, the same idea that Macbeth had when he said, "Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires" It seems as if the whole plot revolves around the night and the many roles it holds throughout the play.

Shakespeare often uses darkness and storms to depict that evil happenings are occurring or are about to take place. There are at least three examples of this in Macbeth. Most of the evil things that Macbeth does in the story occurs in the nighttime. Lennox states, "... the obscure bird Clamored the livelong night. Some say, the earth Was feverous and did shake," in reaction to Macbeth\'s first evil act, killing the king of Scotland. "The night has been unruly: where we lay, Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say, Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,..." "Three score and ten I can remember well; Within the volume of which time I have seen Hours of dreadful and things strange, but this sore night Hath trifled former knowings." Both these quotes are talking about the night of Duncan’s death. They are showing the comparisons between the natural unruliness and the unusual disaster.

In the play, the word “blood” is mentioned numerous times. Shakespeare’s use of this particular word is significant; he uses it to develop the character of Macbeth and the unfolding events of the drama. The powerful symbolic meaning of blood changes from the beginning to the end. Before Duncan’s murder, Macbeth imagines seeing a dagger floating in the air before him. He describes it, “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There’s no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes.” This blood imagery refers to treason, ambition, and murder. Blood, once seen as a positive value, is now associated with evil.

After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth begins to realize the severity of his crime as he tries to wash Duncan’s blood off his hands, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No; this hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red.” Macbeth laments that not even all the water in the ocean will wash the blood off his hands, he is beginning to realize the magnitude of his crime, and that he has done something truly evil.

Shortly after Macbeth sees the ghost of the murdered Banquo at his feast, he goes into a state of shock and has to be escorted back to his chamber by Lady Macbeth. He tells Lady Macbeth before he goes to sleep, “All causes shall give way: I am in blood Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er:” Macbeth has now entered so far into hell and the world of evil, it is impossible for him to return to righteousness. He will be forced to kill more and more people in order to retain control of the throne. The sins he has committed have not only perverted his virtuous life, but have condemned him to an eternity in hell. There is no chance of redemption; he has permanently allied