Themes, Symbols, and The Tragic Hero. Blood – blood is mentioned many times throughout the play, whether in specific reference to an actual murder or as a symbol of the Macbeths’ guilt. . Murder/Post murder: “My hands are of you color…a little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.77-80).
Blood – blood is mentioned many times throughout the play, whether in specific reference to an actual murder or as a symbol of the Macbeths’ guilt.
Sleep – often synonymous with death, the idea of sleep begins the plotting of Duncan’s murder and Malcolm and Donalbain’s calling out when their father is killed; sleep continues as a motif throughout, like blood, as a reference to death.
Birds –Shakespeare’s use of birds throughout the play is both curious and intentional. He uses many different types of birds to communicate the mood of the scene in which they appear, citing ravens and owls as his primary symbols.
Supernatural – the play opens with the witches on the heath, predicting the arrival of Macbeth and immediately introducing the idea of the supernatural and the mystic that continues to permeate throughout the play…
Masculinity/Emasculation – Lady Macbeth is often cited as one of Shakespeare’s strongest female characters at her appearance early in the play, particularly when she convinces her husband to follow through with the murder, challenging his masculinity.
Kingship/Disease – Shakespeare uses an extended metaphor to compare Scotland to a living entity that is cursed with disease, in this case Macbeth himself, that it needs to recover from.
Good Warrior/Good King – A trait typical of Anglo-Saxon literature (going all the way back to Beowulf), with Macbeth clearly symbolizing the drastic difference of the two, especially in comparison to his predecessor, Duncan.
The Tragic Hero literature (going all the way back to – Aristotle’s text of literary theory, Poetics, serves as the basis of all tragedy and defines what is considered to be The Tragic Hero: