We have not heard anything of Lady Macbeth since the ghost of Banquo scene.
Now we are suddenly confronted with a woman on the verge of despair, whose conscience is so
overwrought that she sleepwalks every evening, attempting vainly to wash the blood of Duncan from her
hands and soul.
THE THEME OF BLOOD
Blood is one of the major themes of Macbeth. How many times can you find the mention of blood?
"What bloody man is that?" asks King Duncan when the captain comes to tell of Macbeth's heroics.
Macbeth's sword "smoked with bloody execution", the captain tells the king. Then the captain tells
them that Macbeth caused the enemy to "bathe in reeking wounds" so as to "memorize another
Macbeth sees a ghostly dagger leading him to Duncan's chamber, its blade covered with "gouts of
After the murder, Macbeth asks in anguish whether "all great Neptune's ocean [could] wash this blood
clean from [his] hand".
Lady Macbeth returns the bloody daggers and states that, "if he do bleed [she would] gild the faces of
the grooms withal".
She returns "with hands of your colour" but she is "ashamed to wear a heart so white".
After Banquo's murder, Macbeth comments that he was "in blood stepped in so far, that, should [he]
wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er".
And then the ever-strong Lady Macbeth is overcome by the memories of Duncan's blood. She walks in
her sleep and is forever looking for water to wash her hands.
Even then the smell of blood remains strong on them.
How many other examples can you find where blood is mentioned in the play? Note them. Count them.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?