Throughout the play the gender confusion, which is the essence of this scene, is restored and the natural order of sex is re-established. The capacity that Macbeth has to feel the anguish of his sins brings about feminine qualities not attractive to males of the time. Through succumbing to the pressures of his wife and committing the bloody deeds Macbeth becomes the man that society in the 1600’s expected of him. He returns his masculinity through his death in battle, through his obliviousness to the murders he initiated and the overall hardening of his heart. In contrast throughout the first murder Lady Macbeth is cruel and remorseless, evident when she actively sets up the murder of Duncan and returns the bloody daggers to the scene of the crime. Ironically, through Lady Macbeths sleep walking habits and compulsive w ashing of her “bloody hands”, it is revealed that she was not unchanged by the event and thus was not ‘unsexed’ by the spirits that tend on mortal souls in this scene . Through an unrested conscience and her tragic suicide, Lady Macbeth feels guilt as a female would, and Shakespeare, by concluding the play in this way, was able to keep gender roles firmly in place.
The imagery of colour, particularly of blood, re-occurring several times throughout the play, sheds a great deal of light on a conscience which is not at rest. Strong in smell and rich in its deep red colour, blood permanently taints the hands of Macbeth that “all Neptune’s Oceans [cannot] wash clean” and whose smell “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten”. It is a constant reminder of the murder he committed and foreshadows the assassinations of Banquo and Macduff’s family that Macbeth undertakes in order to seal his position on the throne. This “filthy witness” on Macbeth’s bloody hands is a physical image of his fears and self-doubt. It marks his realisation of the murders that he has committed and initiates his unstoppable “bloody, bold and resolute” path to power.
Likewise the quote “Macbeth shall sleep no more” reveals the real