There are several symbols in Shakespeare's Macbeth, and they all relate to the central conflict and themes. One such symbol is blood. Indeed, one of the very first characters we meet in the play is a bleeding sergeant (1.2.1-9). The words “blood”, “bloody”, and “bloodier” are also used several times throughout the play. 

Most people associate blood with death or danger, and this is true of Macbeth as well. However, more than anything blood symbolizes guilt in Shakespeare’s play. Right after Duncan’s murder, the hands of Macbeth and his wife are stained with Duncan’s blood. While Macbeth is horrified and feels like no amount of water will be able to clean his hands and conscience, Lady Macbeth taunts his lack of courage: “My hands are of your colour; but I shame / To wear a heart so white. [...] A little water clears us of this deed.” (2.2.79-83).

Ironically, Lady Macbeth ends up echoing Macbeth’s sentiment in her sleepwalking scene when guilt seems to have caught up with her: “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the / perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little / hand. Oh, oh, oh!” (5.1.45-47). No amount of perfume will remove her sin. Shakespeare thereby underlines how you...

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