Blood Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Blood Symbol Icon
Blood is always closely linked to violence, but over the course of Macbeth blood comes to symbolize something else: guilt. Death and killing happen in an instant, but blood remains, and stains. At the times when both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel most guilty, they despair that they will never be able to wash the blood—their guilt—from their hands.

Blood Quotes in Macbeth

The Macbeth quotes below all refer to the symbol of Blood. 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:
Ambition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Macbeth published in 2003.
Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty; make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall.
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 1.5.47-55
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, scene 4 Quotes
I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.4.168-170
Explanation and Analysis:
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Blood Symbol Timeline in Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blood appears in Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Violence Theme Icon
...of Lennox wait for news of the war. A captain enters, covered in so much blood he is almost unrecognizable. The captain tells them of the state of the battle against... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth enters. He's killed Duncan and Duncan's attendants. His hands are bloodstained and he's upset that when one of the attendants said "God bless us" in his... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...terrifying Macbeth. He worries that not all the water in the world could wash the blood from his hands. (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth returns, her hands now as bloody as Macbeth's. But she's calm, and identifies the 'mysterious' knocking as someone at the south... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth: "Blood will have blood" (3.4.121), and asks what Lady Macbeth makes of the fact that Macduff does not appear... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
He says: "I am in blood / Stepped in so far" (3.4.135) that turning back is as difficult as continuing on. (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...the words: "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him" (5.1.33-34)? (full context)