William Shakespeare
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.
Hallucinations recur throughout the play and serve as reminders of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth\’s responsibilities for the murders. Prior to Duncan\’s murder, Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air. He also sees Banquo\’s ghost sitting in a chair at a feast, reminding him that he murdered his former friend. Lady Macbeth also hallucinates despite her apparent ruthlessness, as she sleepwalks and believes that her hands are stained with blood that cannot be washed away.
Despite the motif of violence, most of the killings in Macbeth take place offstage that are accompanied by gory descriptions of the carnage given by the characters. The play is sandwiched between two bloody battles with two very different outcomes - the former resulting in Macbeth\’s victory, and the latter resulting in Macbeth\’s beheading. The play itself fleshes out a series of murders\: Duncan, Duncan\’s chamberlains, Banquo, Lady Macduff, and Macduff\’s son.
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