Role of Imagery

Imagery is important in all Shakespearean plays because it helps the reader to understand the storyline more thoroughly. It is a key tool all author’s use to give a deeper understanding to his or her writing. An online source explains what imagery is: “The use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas” (thefreedictionary. com). In Macbeth, Shakespeare adds many uses of imagery in order to provide a deeper understanding to the form of literature. All of these uses of imagery play the role of developing character and atmosphere in Macbeth.During the play, Shakespeare uses imagery of clothing to reveal Macbeth’s disgraceful character to the audience. Within the play the imagery of clothing portrays that Macbeth is trying to hide his “disgraceful self from himself and others. ” The imagery of clothing seems to consistently come up whenever Macbeth’s downfall takes a new step. First, clothing imagery is used when Macbeth is named the new thane of Cawdor. After Ross and Angus give Macbeth this new title he says, “The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me/ In borrow’d robes? ” (I, ii, 107-108).This particular circumstance is a quote, which shows one of Macbeth’s positive aspects about his character. The clothing imagery Macbeth used was his question of why he was given a title that someone else already has, relating to a borrowed piece of clothing, which someone already owns. This reveals that at the beginning of the play, Macbeth was very respectful to others, and didn’t wish “to step on anybody’s toes. ” Secondly, clothing imagery is again used at the end of the play when Angus talks about how Macbeth now must feel about all the wrong he has done.Angus says, “now does he feel his title/ Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe/ Upon a dwarfish thief” (V, ii, 20 – 22). The clothing imagery of a dwarf wearing a robe, which he stole from a giant, relates to the title of king, which Macbeth stole from Duncan. It is meant to explain that the role simply did not fit him. This reveals that Macbeth’s ambition, definitely adds to his disgraceful character. Macbeth is consistently represented symbolically as the wearer of clothing not belonging to him. Since these garments he has taken do not belong to Macbeth, it results in a uncomfortable feeling for him.Thus the use of clothing imagery throughout the play was definitely used to reveal Macbeth’s disgraceful character. In order to develop Macbeth’s character, Shakespeare uses animal imagery many times throughout the play. Initially, animal imagery is used to show Macbeth’s positive character when King Duncan is hearing a wounded sergeant’s report on the battle. When King Duncan asked the sergeant if Macbeth and Banquo were afraid when the second attack on Scotland began, he said, “As sparrows eagles; or the hare the lion” (I, ii, 35).This quotation uses sarcasm to show Macbeth and Banquo were as afraid of this second attack as an eagle would be afraid of a sparrow, or a lion would be afraid of a hare. In nature, neither of theses predators would be afraid of their prey, so this quotation reveals Macbeth’s bravery to fighting, and loyalty to the king. Secondly, animal imagery is used to reveal Macbeth’s character when he beings to fight against Malcolm, Macduff, and Siward at the end of the play. Right before Macbeth finds young Siward in battle he says, “They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, / But bear-like I must fight the course” (V, vii, 1-2).This use of animal imagery relates to a form of entertainment from the past where a bear is tied to a stake, and defends itself against many dogs until it looses. This relates to the fact that Macbeth is stuck and unable to flee from battle, and will fight like a bear until he perishes. This quotation again reveals Macbeths bravery even though he brought on his own demise. Thus, Shakespeare used many examples of animal imagery throughout the play in order to reveal Macbeth’s character. The imagery of darkness is consistently used to develop a dark atmosphere throughout the play.Dark imagery is first used to set a dark atmosphere when King Duncan names Malcolm the next king of Scotland and Macbeth expresses how he truly feels about this news. After Macbeth hears about the new Prince of Cumberland, he says, “Let not light see my black and deep desires: /The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be, which the eye fears, when it is done, to see” (I, iv, 50-52). In this “aside”, Macbeth expresses how he has dark desires of murder in order for him to become king. This is the first time we see the dark imagery, which sets the general atmosphere for the rest of the play.Furthermore, dark imagery again sets a dark, mysterious mood when Lady Macbeth reads the letter about Macbeth’s intentions for the king when he spends the night at his castle. After she reads the letter she exclaims, “smoke of hell, /That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, /Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark” (I, v, 51-53). In this scene, Lady Macbeth uses dark imagery to set the mood of anticipation of when the king will be murdered. She is saying that it must be night when it happens so that the heavens won’t see the deeds they are planning to commit.Thus, dark imagery is used throughout the play to set a dark, ominous mood. Without a doubt, imagery plays a role of developing atmosphere and character in Macbeth. Shakespeare includes many uses of imagery that aid to the development of Macbeth’s character, and to the dark, ominous mood of the play. The story was a timeless tale of how ambition and power ultimately lead to disaster.Works Cited “Imagery in Macbeth. ” CourseworkHelp. N. p. , n. d. Web. 8 May 2011. . Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Betty Bealey. Mississauga: Canadian School Book Exchange, 1996.