MacbethL ImageryOne of the most important tools in literature is imagery. It is notjust in there to fill up paper; rather, there is at least one dramatic purposefor each image and there are many different types of imagery. This essay seeksto prove that in the play Macbeth the author William Shakespeare uses darknessimagery for three dramatic purposes. Those three purposes are, to createatmosphere, to arouse the emotions of the audience and to contribute to themajor theme of the play.
The darkness imagery in Macbeth contributes to its ominous atmosphere. Inthe very beginning of the play the three witches are talking and the first witchsays “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”(Macbeth 1. 1. line 1).
This is a good example of darkness imagery because whenyou think of the crashing thunder, lightning and rain, they all remind you ofevil and ominous things. Later on the Sergeant is talking with Duncan andMalcolm when he states “Ship wrecking storms and direful thunders break” (1. 2. l26). Again this darkness imagery contributes to the ominous atmosphere of theplay, having reference to thunder and dark storms.
Finally, Lady Macbeth andMacbeth are talking in the scene just before the murder of Banquo and Macbethsays “Light thickens, and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood: Good things ofday begin to droop and drowse, whiles night’s black agents to their preys dorouse” (3. 2. l50-53). This example of darkness imagery is saying that the dayis turning into night, all the good things are going to sleep, and the evilcreatures are coming out . The evil in this previous quotation and the twobefore adds to the ominous atmosphere. Since the imagery creates an ominousatmosphere it would then lead to the second dramatic purpose, to arouse theemotions of the audience.
Darkness imagery is a very good tool for arousingthe emotions of the audience. It enables people to create a mental picture ofthe what they are reading. For instance, in this instance of darkness imageryDuncan and Macbeth were talking when Macbeth says aside “Stars, hide your fires!Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1. 4.
l50-51). When words likedark and desire are put in that context it creates many horrible mentalpictures about murders and fights which arouses peoples emotions. Ross is latertalking with an old man when he states “By the clock ’tis day, and yet darknight strangles the traveling lamp” (2. 4. l6-7). In other words; although, thesun should beout, something is blocking the light.
This example of darkness imagery createsan eeriefeeling in the reader because it is very abnormal for the sun to be blocked. One might say that God is punishing them or that there is the presence of adevil if the sun was gone and would stir up the emotions of the reader althoughit was probably only an eclipse. Another case of darkness imagery happens whenLady Macbeth and a messenger are talking and Lady Macbeth states “That my keenknife see not the wound it makes, nor heaven peep through the blanket of thedark to cry, “Hold, hold!”” (1. 5. l52-54). It creates an illustration ofterror because of the unknown.
With night covering the earth like a blanket noone knows what might happen. They might be the one behind the knife with knowone there to see it or help. As well as arousing the emotions of the audience darkness imagery works wellin characterizing. Darkness imagery also is very useful for a further dramaticpurpose, to characterize, and specifically to characterize Macbeth.
Throughthe use of darkness imagery Shakespeare was able to characterize Macbeth asperceived in this next quote where Macduff and Malcolm are talking and Macduffpronounces “Not in legions of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d in evils,to top Macbeth” (4. 3. l55-56). It is understood that Macduff views Macbeth asa man even further corrupt than any devil and would consequently characterizehim as evil. Subsequent to that, Macbeth enters a scene with Young Siward andYoung Siward asks for his name.
Macbeth replies and Young Siward replies with”The devil himself could not pronounce a title more hateful to mine ear” (5. 7. l8-9). This shows that, as well, Young Siward views Macbeth as a bad man andwould also characterize Macbeth.
Lastly, Malcolm is speaking with Macduff andsaying how he will reveal his real evil self and states “When they shall beopen’d, black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow” (4. 3. l52-53). Thischaracterizing Macbeth as a dark person but contrary to previous beliefs,Malcolm is actually more evil. Darkness imagery was very effective incharacterizing Macbeth in all the preceding quotes.
Consequently viewing the previous, it is undoubtedly true that darknessdoes play a big role in developing the dramatic purposes. Darkness imagerydoes help convey to the audience the atmosphere, it does provoke the audiencesresponse to the play, and it did help illustrate the characters in Macbeth. Imagery plays a huge roll in the development of any piece of literature.