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Macbeth: Animal Imagery and Symbolism

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Reshma Suresh

on 12 June 2013

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Transcript of Macbeth: Animal Imagery and Symbolism

Macbeth An analysis of animal imagery and symbolism By Reshma Suresh The uses of animal imagery in Macbeth The Uses: It makes the play more interesting Used to describe events and in a more engaging way Predominant Animals Snake
Various birds
Horse Major Animals and their
Superstitions Snake Owl Raven Lions and Horses Falcon Song birds/ Wren small, weak and fragile
can signify a beautiful day sly
related with temptation
cynicism Combine Everything! The Owl Falcon Snake Banquo that was the danger to Macbeth then, is refered to as the serpent and Fleance as the worm.
Realizes later on, Fleance may be a threat, so he will change from an invaluable worm to a poisonous snake
Helps the viewer understand how Macbeth feels about the escaping of Fleance "A falcon tow'ring in her pride of place Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and killed" Other significant animal imagery Chickens Tiger and Bear The Witches they used many things that would be considered evil and just undesirable Such as
hedgehogs, which were considered to be malignant spirits in disguise
frogs, bats, lizards, sharks
they mentioned "the brindled cat", which is a cat with black/brown streaks of fur. This was sign of bad luck.
Displays how vile, disgusting and evil these witches were, which gave the audience all the reason to either be afraid or develop a strong hatred towards them. Many animals were tied in with the witches, especially during the Cauldron scene The progression of Macbeth's personality through animal imagery Finally, the play ends in complete disgrace for Macbeth. Not only does all his effort go to waste, he is downgraded once again and is compared to a dog At the very beginning, we are introduced to Macbeth, thinking he is a very noble and brave soldier. Moreover, this was the perspective of someone else so he was also very respected Helps to understand the play better, as the viewer has something to connect to. Cry/hoot is related with death Ill omen, also closely related to death
always found on battlefields, as it is a scavenger powerful and smart
seen as brave and can be closely compared to a soldier Both are seen as loyal and dutiful animals
People were very dependent on horses for travel so they needed to be noble Archetypes The Witches Typical Physical Appearance Modern Examples The Hero: Macduff Modern Examples Nice guys finish first? Once a hero, always a hero The King Modern Examples I respect you to death The Old Man Modern Examples Wisdom comes with age Archetypes The Witches Typical Physical Appearance Modern Examples The Hero: Macduff Modern Examples Nice guys finish first? Once a hero, always a hero The King Modern Examples I respect you to death The Old Man Modern Examples Wisdom comes with age Foreshadow Description Emotion/Theme tgrtyrtyr Can be used to foreshadow events Used to describe Macbeth Used to compare things
Helps with the dramatic irony
Creates emotion Minor Animals in the Play Scorpion
Beetle Chicken
worm "Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under't." (1, 6, 65) Used as a descriptor
Makes speech more interesting
Be fake, be deceiving, be undetectable like a snake Lady Macbeth thinks like a snake,
gives insight on characteristics "It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman which gives the stern'st good-night" Compares the owl with the night watchman who guards the prisoners who are sentenced to death
Also foreshadows Duncan's murder "The obscure bird clamour'd the livelong night" Describes the situation, and the disorder that occurs when a king is murdered.
foreshadows when everyone finds about the murder shows the disorder everyone is put through
gives viewer a better understanding of what was going on and how distressed people felt
compares the mighty falcon with a measly mouse eating owl, people are beginning to realize there is now a lot of chaos.
Viewer sees that Duncan = Falcon and Macbeth= owl and it's just not right "Augures, and understood relations, have By maggot-pies, and choughs, and rooks brought forth The secret'st man of blood"(3,4, 124-126) even the best criminals have been exposed because of these birds
foreshadowing for when Macbeth gets caught Horses "I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself and falls on th'other" Macbeth compares himself to an eager horse that has too much ambition and not enough drive, so he will fall flat
gives viewer perspective on how Macbeth is feeling and even his personality
Makes the play more interesting, gets the viewer thinking and connecting so they don't get bored at the end of his soliloquies. "What, all my pretty chickens and their dam At one fell swoop?" (Act 4, Scene 3, Lines 255-226). Chickens are helpless, vulnerable and get frightened easily
Feel sympathy for Macduff and his family
plays with emotion
describes how brutal this killing really was Tigers,Bears and Rhinos are all very powerful, fierce and dangerous animals
Shows Macbeth's desperation
Gives audience a taste of how he is feeling "I dare not' wait upon 'I would', like the poor cat i' the adage?"(1,7,44-45) Shows that Lady Macbeth is ready to work hard for things she wants, she is ready to get her hands dirty, unlike Macbeth
Shows Lady Macbeth's intent
Audience may be in shock to see a woman behave this way
Plays with emotions and used to describe a character "approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger" "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, But bear-like I must fight" (5,7,1-2) Trapping a bear and attacking it with dogs was a sport
They fight quite fiercely, and Macbeth compares himself to that.
Macbeth seems to be ignorant to the fact that he will lose
foreshadowing his death Wren +Owl "the poor wren, the most diminutive of birds, will fight, her young ones in her nest, against the owl" (4,2,8-10) The wren is a very small bird compared to the owl, so it is unfair as the Wren is helpless
foreshadows the attack on her family
audience will feel sorry for the family when they are attacked, as the analogy was put forth ahead of time Act 4 Recap " as sparrows, eagles or the hare, the lion" Next, the audience discovers that he is not so noble after all, as he murders the kindhearted Duncan to replace him.
He then gets downgraded from 'lion' and 'eagle' to a 'mousing owl'.
He stooped so low as to kill the king so he is compared to a bird of bad luck. "A falcon tow'ring in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd" (2,4,13-14) "Turn, hell-hound,turn" (5,8,3) Through animal imagery and symbolism we can see Macbeth's gradual downfall in his community. "There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled Hath nature that in time will venom breed, No teeth for th'present"
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