Imagery is a very important theme in William Shakespeare’s plays. There are many kinds of imagery. There is clothing imagery, light and dark imagery, sickness imagery, unnatural imagery, blood imagery, and animal imagery. The following essay will discuss the animal imagery in Macbeth and the three ways Shakespeare uses it: to characterize, to show emotion, and to foreshadow.
With characterization and animal imagery, Shakespeare shows the personality of the person whether they are scared and insane or brave and sane… Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, The armed rhinoceros, or th’ Hyrcan tiger; Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves Shall never tremble… (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 122-125).
In this quote, Macbeth is telling Lady Macbeth that he saw Banquo’s ghost sitting in his chair at the banquet.
Obviously, he is the only one who sees him. Macbeth claims he would not be afraid of any of these animals if he ever were to encounter them. We know that he ordered the murder of Banquo and now he thinks Banquo has come back to haunt him. This shows that Macbeth is afraid and is as not as strong as he leads people to believe.
He is a coward and may be regretting what he has done. Another example is Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the lion. If I say sooth, I must report they were As cannons overcharged with double cracks, So they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe. (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 39-42).
Shakespeare has included the witches in the play for several reasons. First, these supernatural beings have an important part in the storyline of the play; without them the play would not be as exciting. Then, they are there to thrill and entertain the audience. Furthermore, Shakespeare included them to please King James. The witches also play a significant part in the moral of the play: witches ...
In this quote, the Captain is talking about Macbeth and Banquo and how they are compared against the other army.
He is showing this by using how an eagle defeats the sparrow or how the lion defeats the hare. This shows how tough Macbeth and Banquo are and how they are similar to the lion or the eagle whereas the opponents are similar to the hare or the sparrow. With emotion and animal imagery, Shakespeare shows how the person is feeling whether they are scared and in danger or happy and safe. “Throw physic to the dogs. I’ll none of it. -/come, put mine armor on.
Give me my staff.” (Act 5, Scene 3, Line 58-59).
This quote is from the scene where Macbeth is talking to the doctor about Lady Macbeth and her sickness. Macbeth is saying that medical science is useless and it cannot help Lady Macbeth because her illness is mental not physical. He is feeling frustrated and hopeless. A second example is They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, But, bear-like, I must fight the course.
What’s he That was not born of woman? Such a one Am I to fear, or none. (Act 5, Scene 7, Lines 1-4).
This quote is from the scene where Macbeth is talking to himself before young Seward enters and they fight. Macbeth here sees himself as a bear in a bear baiting tied to a stake and set upon by dogs.
He feels like this because there is a whole army consisting of Macduff, Malcolm and many Scottish nobles all against one person – Macbeth. With foreshadowing and animal imagery, Shakespeare shows how the animal imagery is used when people are speaking to foreshadow what could or is going to happen in the future. “A falcon, tow ” ring in her pride of place, /was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 15-16) and “And Duncan’s horses/… Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, /contending ‘against obedience… .” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 17-21).
This is the scene where Ross and an old man exchange accounts of recent unnatural happenings.
These two quotes are showing how it is very impossible for an owl to kill a falcon and for horses to be cannibalistic. This shows foreshadowing of Macbeth’s downfall because it happened in his home under questionable circumstances. Another example is ” (the most diminutive of birds) will fight, /Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.” (Act 4, Scene 2, Lines 12-13).
... The next passage is Act 1 sc. 7 line 49. In this passage Lady Macbeths quoted saying "like the poor cat I 'th' adage" ... man to a Tiger. The tiger is a very good animal and is near the top of the Elizabethan World Picture. ... However Lady Macbeth would find someone else to get their feet wet, someone to do her dirty work. In act 2 scene 4 line ...
This is the scene where Ross is warning Lady Macduff to be careful of Macbeth. This is the foreshadowing of the murder of Lady Macduff and her son. The quote is saying how small and weak birds will defend their young against anyone no matter who it is.
Basically, Lady Macduff and her son do not stand a chance against the murderers. As proved, Shakespeare has used animal imagery to characterize, to show emotion, and to foreshadow. The images of animals, nearly all predatory, unpleasant or fierce have added fear, horror, and pain to the play Macbeth which makes it suspenseful, exciting, and gloomy.