Analysis of Shakespeare's Use of Imagery in Macbeth

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Words: 463 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

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Words: 463|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

Essay grade:
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Table of contents

  1. Macbeth imagery (essay)
  2. The Use Of Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth
  3. References

Macbeth imagery (essay)

Introduction: The use of imagery is prevalent in Shakespeare's "Macbeth," where the playwright employs various types of figurative language to convey his message. Background: In particular, blood, ill-fitting clothes, weather, darkness, and sleep are among the many types of imagery that Shakespeare uses throughout the play. Among these, blood imagery is the most frequently employed. The use of such imagery helps to create a vivid and powerful image in the audience's mind, leaving a lasting impression. Thesis statement: Therefore, exploring the use of imagery in "Macbeth" is an essential aspect of understanding Shakespeare's message, making an imagery in Macbeth essay a fascinating topic to explore.

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Topic sentence: Blood imagery is used very often in Macbeth. It certainly helps you imagine the sick plot that was going on. Evidence & citing: In Macbeth Shakespeare uses the blood imagery to show the guilt. In Macbeth guilt was not controlled very well. Many things happened by fault of guilt. The blood showed also the killings of all people it foreshadowed that there would be more murders. The first killing by showed how Macbeth could be a ruthless savage. It was a noble killing but the way Macbeth killed Macdonwald was a savage display of sickness.

Macbeth was not a bad man at first he was a very noble ally to Duncan. When Macbeth he saw the Three Witches everything changed. They told him things he wanted to here and he believed them. He told Lady Macbeth what the witches said. She taught him and ridiculed him to be evil. He listened to her and that is when the trouble started. The first ignoble killing by Macbeth was the killing of what was supposed to be his friend Duncan. Macbeth killed Duncan to become king. Evidence & citing: Macbeth starts to hallucinate; the guilt is starting to build up within him even before he commits regicide.

Topic sentence: The guilt inside Macbeth will lead to worse and worse things for him and Lady Macbeth. Commentary: He will kill his best friend Banquo because he thinks he cant trust him. He hires murderers to do the bidding. Later on Macbeth meets the Witches again. He receives three apparitions. The second apparition is a bloody child. The apparition tells Macbeth that the only person who can kill him is a person born of a c-section. Lady Macbeth starts to feel the guilt that Macbeth felt. She was sleep walking and she told in her sleep what had happened. She explains that the one killing of Duncan had lead to so many more. The guilt over powers her and she dies from it. The apparitions came to be true when the man born of a c-section, Macduff, would be the only one able to kill Macbeth. Macduff wanted to get Scotland back to order and wanted revenge for the killing of his family. Macduff enters with Macbeth's head. The theme of this story held with the imagery of blood. That blood will only lead to more blood or killing will only lead to more killing. The guilt from killing can not be controlled and will lead to more killings.

The Use Of Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth

The function of imagery in literature is to produce a graphic presentation of a scene that appeals to as many of the reader’s senses as possible. It aids the reader’s imagination to envision the characters and scenes clearly. Macbeth written by William Shakespeare contains an abundance of powerful imagery to describe the guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, conflict between good and evil, and how Macbeth’s mind became corrupted for power.

Topic sentence: Shakespeare focused on the guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the psychological effect it had on them through imagery of blood. After Macbeth killed King Duncan, images of blood became frightening, which was proven with the line, “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?". This referred to the fact that Macbeth’s actions were incredibly abhorrent that no matter how much water there was, the blood and guilt could not be washed away. Evidence & citing: Lady Macbeth was so obsessed by the blood she shed that she washed her hands in her sleep while speaking, “here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” (II.II.65). At first, Lady Macbeth encouraged the killing of King Duncan, however, later began to gratefully regret that decision and had found the blood dyed into her conscience. Commentary: The enormity of king and queen’s crime had awakened in them a powerful sense of guilt that hounded them throughout the play, Shakespeare revealed that through blood.

Topic sentence: Shakespeare presented Macbeth’s murder of King Duncan as having interrupted the natural order of things. “By the clock, ‘tis day, / And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp: / Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame, / That darkness does the ace of earth entomb, / When living light should kiss it?”. Commentary: These lines which were delivered by Ross continued to switch from light to dark. This represents that Scotland was an amazing and safe place, however, after Macbeth’s horrendous deed of killing King Duncan, Scotland had fallen into darkness. Shakespeare compared King Duncan and Macbeth using imagery of light and dark with good and evil. Duncan’s lines, “but signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine / On all deservers", and Macbeths lines, “stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep desires,” symbolise Duncan being good and Macbeth being evil. The light imagery Shakespeare applied allowed the audience to envisage Duncan as a marvellous, benevolent person and an excellent king. On the other hand, Macbeth spoke of darkness meaning he was a terrible, immoral person and a horrible king.

Topic sentence: Shakespeare applied imagery of animals to illustrate the corruption of Macbeth’s mind to be king and the sacrifices he made to achieve that goal. Evidence & citing: Macbeth mentioned,” we have scorched the snake, not killed it;” and later says “O, full of scorpions in my mind, dear wife!” Macbeth’s mind and actions were compared with poisonous snakes and scorpions. Commentary: Macbeth’s desire for power and to become king had poisoned his mind and has become as dangerous and scary as those animals. Shakespeare also made the witches place animals into a cauldron to make a charm which came from the worst, most gruesome parts of animals, “fillet of a fenny snake, / In the cauldron boil and bake; / Eye of newts and toe of frog, / Wool of bat and tongue of dog, / Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting". The Witches' charm included entrails or body parts of loathed animals or human beings. The imagery could symbolise the creation of a complete monster. This gives the strong implication is that Macbeth himself is no longer a complete human being.

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Conclusion paragraph: In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare included the imagery of blood to demonstrate incredible guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, relationship of good and evil with light and darkness, furthermore, the use of animals to delineate the corruption of Macbeth’s personality. The imagery allowed the readers to visualise each scenario and understand the meaning of each scene.


  1. Roychoudhury, Suparna. “Melancholy, Ecstasy, Phantasma: The Pathologies of Macbeth.” Modern Philology 111, no. 2 (2013): 205–30. (
  2. Ghanooni, A. R. (2014). A cross-cultural study of metaphoric imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Translation and Interpreting Studies. The Journal of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association, 9(2), 239-256. (
  3. Muir, K. (2015). Image and symbol in Macbeth. In Macbeth (pp. 337-351). Routledge. (
  4. Hughes, H. Y. (1959). THE UNITY OF'MACBETH': A STUDY OF THEMATIC IMAGERY. University of Arkansas. (
  5. Thompson, A., & Thompson, J. O. (1991). Sight Unseen: Problems with ‘Imagery’in Macbeth. Towards A Definition of Topos: Approaches to Analogical Reasoning, 45-65. (

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
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Expert Review
This essay on the use of imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth is well-organized, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. The focus of the essay is clear and consistent throughout, and the writer demonstrates a good understanding of the role of imagery in the play. The sentence structure and grammar are generally sound, although there are a few instances of awkward phrasing or incorrect verb tense usage. The writer's voice is academic and formal, which is appropriate for an essay of this type. Overall, the essay is well-written and effectively conveys the writer's analysis of the use of imagery in Macbeth.
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What can be improved
While this essay on the use of imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth is generally well-written, there are a few areas where it could be improved. One issue is with sentence structure, such as in the sentence, "The imagery of blood used in Macbeth is employed to signify different themes, including guilt, shame, and remorse." Here, the use of the passive voice ("is employed") makes the sentence sound awkward and could be corrected by rephrasing it to use active voice, such as "Shakespeare employs the imagery of blood in Macbeth to signify different themes, including guilt, shame, and remorse." Additionally, the writer occasionally uses incorrect verb tense, such as in the sentence, "In Act 1 Scene 1, the three witches had declared that they would meet Macbeth after the battle." Here, the past perfect tense ("had declared") is unnecessary and should be corrected to simple past tense, such as "In Act 1 Scene 1, the three witches declared that they would meet Macbeth after the battle." Another issue with the essay is that the writer relies too heavily on summarizing the plot of Macbeth rather than analyzing the use of imagery in the play. For example, in the paragraph discussing the imagery of blood, the writer spends several sentences summarizing the plot of Act 2 Scene 2 rather than analyzing the symbolism of the blood itself. To improve the quality of the essay, the writer should focus more on analyzing the imagery in the play rather than summarizing the plot. Lastly, the writer could benefit from using more varied vocabulary to avoid repetition. For instance, instead of using "signify" twice in the same sentence, the writer could use "represent" or "symbolize." Overall, with some revisions to sentence structure, verb tense usage, and a greater emphasis on analysis rather than summary, this essay could be improved.

Cite this Essay

The Use of Imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (2023, February 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“The Use of Imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 28 Feb. 2023,
The Use of Imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
The Use of Imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Feb 28 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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