In both Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, blood is used to symbolize violence in man, whether it is portraying loss of innocence and the malicious urges of a corrupted heart or the deep guilt scarring an individual after a murder.
The Tragedy of Macbeth uses blood as a symbol repeatedly throughout the plot. The play is about a young nobleman of Scotland named Macbeth. After a long day of fighting, Macbeth and another character named Banquo cross paths with three weird sisters. When the witches first spoke, they told a prophecy, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!”(1.3.48-50). After Macbeth learned his future, he and his wife plotted to kill the king of Scotland. Initially after the murder, Macbeth felt guilty for his sin, and uses blood to literally and symbolically show his guilt. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”(2.2.59-62).
Blood in this specific example portrays the intense feeling of guilt that Macbeth had. He believed that nothing would take the blood spilled from the murder off of his hands. This is very similar to how Jack from Lord of the Flies felt first about the idea of him killing the innocent. The first time the boys on the island hunted down a pig to kill, Jack had the opportunity to kill it but did not. This relates back to the guilt felt by Macbeth, as both examples show the characters feelings about bloodshed before they became killers. Both Macbeth and Jack seemed brave to anyone viewing them, but were scared of murder in the beginning. However, as both plots thickened, the characters changed for the worse and went on to kill more and more. After Jack killed the sow, he took her blood and wiped it all over his face and then proceeded to shove a pointed stick through her head and display her to anyone who looked.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, after Macbeth got over the guilt of his first murder he then went on to kill an even larger number of people. Both Jack and Macbeth lost all of their innocence and let their violent, corrupted hearts take over. They grew more and more bloodthirsty, and their murderous natures became overwhelming to them. In fact, the craving to kill became so strong for both characters that they slaughtered the innocent, just because they could. In Lord of the Flies, Jack and his boys killed Simon and Piggy along with attempting to kill Ralph.
The deaths of Simon and Piggy were results of Jack’s heart becoming more evil, and wanting to kill just to kill. Jack did not have to kill them. This is similar to how Macbeth attempted to kill MacDuff. The witches told Macbeth that he didn’t need to kill MacDuff, and his position on the throne was already sealed. They also told him that he needed to beware of MacDuff. However, Macbeth didn’t listen to them and wanted no more than to kill for the sake of killing. Macbeth went on to kill everyone in MacDuff’s castle, and he tried and failed to kill MacDuff himself. This resulted in the death of Macbeth.
The idea of bloodlust and death was shown even before Jack or Macbeth committed murder. When Golding described the island that the boys were stranded on, the damage that the airplane did to the island was called a “scar.” Since scars are created from cuts, they bleed. Another example from Lord of the Flies is when Ralph plunges into the water for the first time. Golding described the water being warmer than blood, which gave readers the idea that bloodlust would become a very prominent image in the novel.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, blood and violence was seen everywhere. “And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, showed like a rebel’s whore: but all’s too weak: for brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name- disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with blood execution, like valor’s minion carved out his passage till he faced the slave; which nev’r shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements”(1.2.14-23). This example shows Macbeth actually being praised for his brutality, which shows that he already had a killer inside of him. However, Macbeth was not killing for personal gain at this point, but killed as a result of battle.
Both in the novel Lord of the Flies and the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, murder and the spilling of blood turned both the characters Jack and Macbeth into malicious, bloodthirsty killers. Blood was a symbol in both writings to show the evil and violent nature of mankind, along with feelings of guilt, loss of innocence, and bloodlust.
Courtney from Study Moose
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