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motifs in macbeth

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Allison Fuller

on 8 May 2013

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Transcript of motifs in macbeth

Motifs in Macbeth An interesting look at patterns in Shakespeare What is a Motif? A motif is a recurring pattern of elements or ideas within a literary work. These could include different imagery, colours, sounds, etc. What Type of Motifs Do We See in Macbeth? A variety of motifs are used throughout the play. Shakespeare uses them to enhance the plot and to show different aspects of the themes or characters. Motifs Used Include:

a) Blood
b) Clothing
c) Fair is Foul
d) Light & Dark
e) Sleep
f) Supernatural
The use of blood is ever present throughout the play. Macbeth is first called the "bloody man" after emerging as the victorious warrior at the beginning of the play. Several characters are murdered and have their blood smeared on their bodies. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both have blood on their hands, and attempt to wash it off of them. Clothing Clothing is often uses as a metaphor for a character's identity within the play. For example, Macbeth and Banquo refer to Macbeth's new role in Act 1 Scene 3 as "borrowed robes" and "strange garments." Fair is Foul This motif is a paradox (that is, a contradictory statement that might actually be true). Examples of something that is fair and yet foul at the same time include:
a) In Act 1 Scene 3, the weather appears awful (foul) and yet it has been a successful day for Macbeth (fair).
b) Macbeth is a great warrior and hero (fair) but his downfall is his ambition (foul)
c) Macbeth is successful in becoming King (fair), but Duncan is dead, and Malcolm and Donalbain are considered the murderers (foul) Light & Dark Imagery One of the most prominent motifs shown in Macbeth, the image of light and dark not only sets the setting of the play, but reflects the different character traits shown. The play is almost always set at night, and when it is set during the day, the weather is dark and dreary as well. Macbeth states "Stars, hide your fires: / Let not light see my black and deep desires, " (1.4.57-58) when referring to his murderous thoughts. Sleep We often see characters carry out their deeds when they are mean to be asleep during the play. For example, Macbeth pretends to go to bed, only to kill Duncan, with sleeping servants outside his door. Lady Macbeth pretends to have just woken up when she hears of Duncan's death. The guilt that Macbeth feels after killing Duncan has him hallucinate: "There's one did laugh in's sleep and one cried 'Murder!'" (2.2.31-32) & "Methought me heard a voice cry, 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep,'" (2.2.47-48). The Supernatural Besides the use of the witches in the first scene, Shakespeare makes use of other supernatural elements. For example, the witches disappear suddenly when talking with Macbeth & Banquo in Act 1 Scene 3. Macbeth's dagger seems to be dangling in front of him, appearing out of nowhere in Act 2 Scene 1. Your Task: Read through Act 3 on your own. Make note of the common motifs used and how they help to advance the plot and theme of the play.
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