Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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The Triskele Symbol Analysis

The Triskele Symbol Icon

The triskele is a design made of three symmetrical spirals joined at the center. It is often associated with the goddess Brigid. Gruadh has a tattoo of the triskele on her shoulder, which her mother Ailsa gave to her when she was a small child. The concept of a protective tattoo, and the symbol itself, are both ancient Gaelic traditions. Together, they are meant to “holds blessings near, while keeping harm at bay.” For Gruadh especially, the triskele symbolizes strength drawn from her connection to her mother, her connection to her Gaelic heritage, and her connection to ancient pagan magic. Additionally, Brigid, with whom the symbol is associated, is a powerful female goddess, from whom Gruadh can draw inspiration and power as she fashions herself as a contemporary warrior woman.

The Triskele Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Triskele. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 8  Quotes

“Often the meaning of the omens we see it not clear until later. If we knew too much about the future, we might be afraid to step from our houses. Do not fret—the signs you saw speak of Scotland’s future even more than your own.”
“Scotland?” I blinked. “Because of the warriors and symbols of warfare?”
“Perhaps they will be Rue’s husbands in future,” Bethoc said. “Well, not all of them,” she amended when I gaped at her.

Mairi took my hands in hers and closed her eyes. “Two husbands,” she said. “Three, if you so choose. Like most women you will have a share of happiness and measures of sorrow. Unlike most, you will have… power.” She let go of my fingers. “You can draw strength from within yourself, like water from a well. Your mother gave you the sign of the good Brigid on your shoulder,” she went on, touching my upper sleeve, which covered the symbol. “Call upon that protection whenever you need it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Mairi (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Ailsa , The Goddess Brigid
Related Symbols: The Triskele
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lady Macbeth PDF

The Triskele Symbol Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Triskele appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
When her daughter was a baby, Ailsa gave Gruadh a Celtic tattoo, the triskele, or symbol of the goddess Brigid. It is a symbol of protection, which “holds blessings... (full context)
Chapter 3
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
For her fifteenth birthday, Bodhe gives Gruadh a sword with a triskele engraved upon it. She is aware of the significance of this gift, although does not... (full context)
Chapter 8 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...and power. Mairi tells Gruadh she has strength within her and can draw upon the triskele on her shoulder for protection. (full context)