Symbols in Macbeth and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

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Symbols in literature works are used by writers to better convey the meanings in the stories. Also, it is evident that William Shakespeare, one of the most respected writers across the globe uses symbols uniquely in his work for the purpose of foreshadowing and to provide the reader with a better understanding of the overall theme. In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, symbols are used to represent the overall theme of murder namely, the light and dark, blood, water, hallucinations, sleep and the witches. Whereas, in the play Julius Caesar also by William Shakespeare, symbols are used to express different notions at once specifically, the crown, the storm, the public, the omens, ‘beware the idea of March’, Caesar’s ghost, animals and northern star. Therefore, this paper will analyse the significance of these symbols in William Shakespeare’s tragedies Macbeth and then Julius Caesar.

To begin with, the difference between light and darkness in the play Macbeth signifies the good and the evil which plays a big role in the development of events. This is evident in Act 3, scene 3 of the play as Macbeth’s light and darkness is clearly exposed. After the murder of Banquo, the light suddenly disappeared perhaps because Banquo was a decent and respectful man who was not greedy like Macbeth. Therefore, the murder in this scene symbolizes darkness and the light signifies goodness as it left with the life of a good man. Additionally, in Act 1, scene 4 Macbeth says “Stars hide your fires; Let not see my black and deep desires’, this line shows how Macbeth is unwilling of anyone or anything revealing his ill doings of the night. He describes his desires as being dark because he wants to murder King Duncan so he can become King and the act of killing is indeed evil in nature and should be hidden from the lights of the stars. Last but not least, another contrast between light and darkness is evident in Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking. She desired darkness at the beginning but after all her evil deeds, she sleepwalks with a candle so the candle light which represents goodness eases her as she is now afraid of the dark and she knows that evil happens in the dark. Shakespeare uses words such as light and dark, black and white and night and day to signify and explain the good and evil.

Additionally, in the play, blood represents both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s guilt. Firstly, in act2 scene 2 after Macbeth kills king Duncan, he escapes from the scene without completing the crime because to him more blood on his hands would incriminate him more. Macbeth also becomes very uncomfortable and starts to cry in front of Lady Macbeth explaining how scared he is of going back to the scene and showing how his hands are filled with blood. He says “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?’, in this line Macbeth shows how much guilt he feels when he looks at blood on his hands and he is afraid that it will remain a constant reminder of killing the king. The fact that Macbeth did not complete the murder, Lady Macbeth had to go cover up the servants with blood and place the daggers close to them to frame them on the murder they have not committed. Despite Lady Macbeth’s bravery and her act of showing no emotions, her guilt became evident during her sleepwalking when she says she didn’t expect such an old man to have so much blood. Secondly, Lady Macbeth continuously tried to wash away the blood smell but her guilt could not allow it, in the play she even expresses how the smell of blood will still remain on her hands even if she uses all the perfumes from Arabia. Macbeths guilt is also visible on how quick he acts to wash off the blood from killing the guards. All the way through the play, imagery blood kept being used to represent the continuous feeling of guilt felt by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth eventually leading to their limitless state of fear and horror in their minds.

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Furthermore, since every problem is expected to have a solution, water in the play Macbeth symbolizes purification of the guilt felt both by Macbeth and lady Macbeth. After the killing of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth assures her significant other that “a little water clears us of the dead” (Act 2, scene 2). Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use water to cleanse them of the guilt from murdering King Duncan. Macbeth regrets and the guilt he feels is profound to the point that he accepts that not even the whole ocean can cleanse his hands, however his bloody murdering hands can turn it red, quoting “No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incardinate, making the green one red’. Close to the end of the play, it is evident that lady Macbeth doesn’t feel purified of her deeds and still feels guilty because even when sleepwalking she says “Out, doomed spot; out, I state” and while talking she would make movements as if she is scrubbing her hands to clean them. Additionally, Lady Macbeth deep down accepted that her guilt cannot be washed away and her attempting to scrub herself of the guilt will not work. Notwithstanding, Lady Macbeth’s recommendation of using water to purify them of their guilt has proven that no amount of water is by all accounts enough to wash of the guilt from them, she even says “what, will these hands ne’er be spotless?’. Water and guilt corresponds through the play and it is a significant sign since both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both go to water for purifying when they feel guilt.

In addition, the hallucinations seen by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth all through the play are representatives of the couple’s guilt for partaking in murder to fulfill their own desires. Primarily the hallucination seen by Macbeth is the floating dagger that he sees before he executes Duncan, while Lady Macbeth broadly hallucinates blood on her hands that cannot be cleansed. The couple perceive these supernatural indications of their guilt as the activity advances. Additionally, Macbeth kept seeing Banquo’s ghost, an old friend of his whom he has killed and this also contributes to the guilt in him and it quotes “Here had we now nations respect roof’d were the graced individual of our Banquo present’ who may I preferably challenge for horribleness over pity for setback!”. Also, the play leaves it up to the reader to interpret whether these hallucinations are genuine or if they are essentially envisioned ideas in the mind of the Macbeths. However, the fleeting dreams also indicate Macbeth’s war inside himself as his honour fights desire. At the point when Macbeth hears a voice saying “does murder sleep’, it foresees Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking and Macbeths bad dreams about killing his companions. Afore the finish of the play, Lady Macbeth envisions blood on her hands by saying “out doomed spot.” Hallucinating when she is sleeping, her mind attempts to wash away her blame without much of any result. Hallucinations in the play Macbeth therefore signify guilt felt by Macbeth and lady Macbeth.

Equally important, sleep and sleeplessness signify feelings of serenity and its absence. As Macbeth’s guilt kept building up, his sleep also does not come easy. Simultaneously, he is very mindful that maybe rest, which “Knits up the ‘ravell’d sleeve of care,’ is actually what he might need to quiet his nerves. Additionally, the lineup “does murder sleep” indicates that Macbeth has ruined his own chances of ever sleeping again. King Duncan who was killed in his sleep, shows that only the innocent sleep calmly. King Duncan represents the true features of a true king and a stable country because he has nothing to fear as he sleeps deeply. The fact that the Macbeths killed the king while he was asleep shows that the man was defenseless and couldn’t resist the murder. Consequently, only the innocent sleep peacefully and those who are guilty become restless.

Moreover, in Macbeth, the witches signify fate, evil and darkness. The witches demonstrate outer wickedness powers that work against Macbeth particularly, however symbolically may affect any individual. Similarly, they are also a mirror of who Macbeth is internally. Shakespeare uses the three witches who are sometimes referred to as the weird sisters to investigate the logical inquiry of fate. Their capacity to anticipate the future precisely brings about issues whether Macbeth’s fate is already written or if he came about to create his own destiny. At the beginning of the play, the witches arrive with thunder and lightning which is an indication that the storm is coming. This as

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