Essay about The Wind

Submitted By timmonsahfd
Words: 1658
Pages: 7

Animal Imagery Shown in Macbeth

Ryan Timmons
Ms. Fisher
ENG 3U
April 23rd, 2013

In today’s world people are compared to animals in many unique ways. The most common reference is comparing someone to a dog and we have all heard the phrases in which we hear the words “You are as ugly as a dog!” or someone is, “ as loyal as a dog”. The use of these metaphors is called animal imagery. Imagery is using words to create or capture and image or picture in the readers mind. The imagery we are about to read about evokes emotion, develops character and illustrates foreshadowing. Shakespeare is one of the most famous people to use animal imagery in his plays and one great example is the play titled Macbeth. This play has a great variety of animal images used for variety of different reasons. Animal imagery is important in Macbeth because it allows the reader to obtain a deeper understanding of the characters. Shakespeare uses animal imagery to show aspects of characters, emotions and feelings of characters and events in the play, more specifically foreshadowing, which are the three main reasons he uses animal imagery. During the time of Shakespeare, animals were a large part of the Elizabethan ‘natural order’ and animals were used to compare the character and moods. Macbeth gives us drastic images of animals which were a key part of developing the tragedy of Macbeth. There is a definite meaning attached to each animal and it helps set the tone for the play. The same way the animal images changes from the beginning to the end of the book, so does the story line. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is seen as being connected to lions and eagles but by the end of the play connected with serpents and ravens. Animal imagery is used often in the play to show Macbeths changes in his emotions and personality. Every animal has a varying qualities just like their colour or their personality. Throughout the play, Macbeth is shown as many animals to people’s eyes. Shakespeare cleverly uses different animals to describe different aspects of Macbeth. At first, the captain describes Macbeth in the following lines, “ Yes’ as the sparrows eagles, or the hare, the lion. If I say sooth, they were cannons overcharged with double cracks” (Shakespeare 1.2.35). The soldier here is talking about Macbeth and Banquo and just like an eagle can easily handle a sparrow, Macbeth and Banquo also easily defeat their opponents and it shows how fierce they are. These lines clearly show the moral reversal as well as corruption in the play as here is seen as a hero but as the play moves on we see a drastic change. By depicting Macbeth as a lion, it shows his courage, ferocity and valance. Macbeth had just won a war, and compared to his opponents, he was like a lion fighting a rabbit. The more corrupt Macbeth becomes the more imagery Shakespeare uses. Throughout the play though Macbeth’s darker aspects are shown. After the night of Duncan’s murder, Ross says to an old man that “A falcon, towering in her pride of place/Was a mousing owl hawked and killed” (2.4.12-13). Duncan represents the hawk, killed by an owl, which is Macbeth. Since owls usually hunt on the ground and are nocturnal, Macbeth’s dark side is revealed. This quote shows the unnatural happenings that night as it not normal for an owl to kill a falcon. His ruthlessness to become king even makes him kill Duncan in the dead of night. These lines from the play show how Macbeth’s negative actions not only upset his inner balance, but also destroyed the balance of nature and illustrates a definite shift in his character. Towards the end, when everyone knows it was Macbeth, he is called a hellhound. Macduff calls out to him “Turn, hellhound, turn!” (5.8.4). Macduff sees Macbeth’s true evil identity. The arrogant tyrant that would do anything to stay king. This identifies Macbeth as evil, ruthful, and that he only cares for himself. These are only some examples used to describe one…