Symbolism is the use of an object in literature to represent or referring to something that’s beyond its definition. Symbolism can be used to add complexity on the character or event to highlight its importance and significance. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Shakespeare uses several symbols to represent, furthermore to highlight the characters’ personalities and characteristics with multiple appearances in the play.
Blood is a significant symbol in this play. It represents and emphasizes Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s guilt, and Shakespeare uses the blood to illustrate their fear after the murder. After Macbeth kills Duncan, he starts to feel the guilt from the murder, he said:” 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. (2.2.77-80)” The blood of Duncan in his hand symbolizes the guilt he has gained after the murder, and the overwhelming sense of guilt and fear is expressed when he exaggerates that the amount of blood will even stain all the seas red and will never be cleaned. Lady Macbeth, has the sense guilt too. When she is sleepwalking and sleep-talking, she “rubs her hands” (5.1.24), and says:” Here is smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh! (46-48)”, Lady Macbeth’s fear of being trapped in guilt is illustrated when she tries to wash the blood off her hands, and she also says the smell of blood cannot be covered to demonstrate the heavy feeling of guilt she has been having. Therefore Shakespeare uses the symbol of blood to prove that the Macbeth couple has been affected and distressed immensely by the guilt they have felt.
Another symbol appears in the play is sleep. Sleep is used as a symbol of peace, vulnerable, innocence. Shakespeare also use sleep to introduce the guilt, consequences, and punishments that Macbeth couple has after the murder. At the night Macbeth kills Duncan, he says:
Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep," the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast. (2.2.47-52)
Macbeth describes sleep as a bath that makes people relaxed and rested, as a main course of a life feat, to suggest that sleep is something that living is worth for. When Macbeth kills the king Duncan in his sleep, his guilt is emphasized by killing the peace and innocent. This feeling of guilt and remorse is reinforced when he says “sleep no more”, which means that he will not be innocent anymore. This is further proved by Lady Macbeth’s unnatural sleepwalking. The guilt makes her cannot fall asleep. “A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching." (5.1.8-9).” says the doctor that sleepwalking does not give her any actual sleep, which convinces the audience that Lady Macbeth does not enjoy any peace from sleeping , suggests she is suffering from the consequences of murder, underlines the enormous effect of guilt on her. Sleep is peaceful and vulnerable, and Shakespeare uses sleep as a symbol for peace and innocent to illustrate their guilt and highlight the punishments of killing.
Darkness is also a symbol is Macbeth, which symbolizes the dark side of human nature, such as deceit, evilness, greed. Shakespeare use darkness to portray the evil personalities the characters have. When Macbeth finds out that Malcom is an obstacle that stop him from being the king, he comes up with the thoughts of murdering. He says: “Stars, hide your fires/Let not light see my black and deep desires.(1.4.57-58)” Stars only appears at night, when he calls them to fade to hide his desires, his desires and personalities are illustrated to be dark and ugly that cannot be seen in the light. Another example of