Symbolism in Shakespeare's Works

Keywords: romeo and juliet symbolism, hamlet symbolism, macbeth symbolism

Friar Lawrence remarks that every plant, plant, and natural stone has its own special properties, and that nothing is accessible in character that cannot be put to both bad and the good uses(Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). Down the road, Friar Lawrence's words end up being appropriate. The sleeping potion he gives Juliet is manufactured never to make her die but only appear to be useless, but through circumstances beyond the Friar's control, the potion does indeed lead to Romeo's suicide. From this example, we can see that humans tend to cause loss of life even if they don't consider doing so. Likewise, Romeo blames culture for the apothecary's unlawful advertising of poison. Poison symbolizes individual society's proclivity to poison good stuff and make them deadly, equally as the pointless Capulet-Montague feud converts Romeo and Juliet's love to poison. After all, this play doesn't have an bad villain, it offers people whose good attributes are considered poison by the world they reside in.


By flicking his thumbnail from behind his upper teeth, Samson commences a fight between your Montagues and Capulets. That is an insulting gesture known as thumb-biting. He only do that because he wants to find yourself in a fight with the Montagues but doesn't want to be accused of triggering the struggle by causing an insult. Due to his fearfulness, he settles for being annoying rather than being challenging. The thumb-biting here shows how stupid and foolish the whole Capulet/Montague feud is, even while an essentially meaningless gesture, and the foolishness of assault in general.


It is symbolized as religious worship. Romeo message or calls Juliet a "saint" and implies that he'd really like to "worship" her body. Not just that, but Romeo's "hand" would be "blessed" if it touched the divine Juliet's. Eventually, Juliet picks up upon this "religion of love" conceit (a conceit is merely a more elaborate metaphor) and declares that Romeo is "the god of [her] idolatry"(Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008).


The main exemplory case of the intimacy/death connection in the play is when Capulet views Juliet's lifeless body and says "death" has "lain with" (slept with) Juliet: "See, there she lays, / Flower as she was, deflowered by him. Loss of life is my son-in-law, death is my heir". "Shakespeare scholar Marjorie Garber offers one of the most interesting insights when she records that even just how that Romeo and Juliet each basically die carries symbolic sexual meaning. Romeo refreshments his poison from a goblet, a normal symbol of feminine sexuality (woman's womb). Juliet, in contrast, stabs herself with Romeo's dagger - a normal sign of male sexuality. Symbolically, Romeo and Juliet incorporate physical fatality and sexual climax" (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). In a natural way, sex serves between men and women are supposed to result in the creation of life. Yet, in this play, the contrary happens.


The skull symbolizes fatality and the afterlife. With the graveyard, Hamlet picks up the skull of Yorick and starts to talk to it; he questions loss of life, and what happens after. He eventually realizes that regardless of what kind of life a person may lead, they'll all pass away and wrap up in the same place after fatality, as mere particles. He then questions the importance to be important while alive, and the importance to be alive in general("Important symbols", 2012) He speaks about how precisely a person like Yorick could end up in the same state as Alexander the fantastic, when he says,

"as thus: Alexander perished, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dirt, the particles is globe, of earth we make loam, and just why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel"

Ophelia's Plants

Ophelia has truly gone mad. She gets into the landscape with different types of blossoms. She gives these blooms to different people, where each type symbolizes something.

First, she provides rosemary to Laertes, which is a image of remembrance.

She also gives him pansies, as they signify symbolic of thoughts - particularly thoughts of love. Although she offers both to Laertes, Ophelia probably has Hamlet in her head when she says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, keep in mind; and there is pansies, that's for thoughts. "

She then provides fennel and columbines to Ruler Claudius. Fennel signifies flattery, and columbines represent having no trust in marriage. They were both directed at Claudius because of his relationship and betrayal.

"Then, Ophelia gives daisies to both King Claudius and Queen Gertrude, which represent deceit and lies, because they both lied to the general public and betrayed King Hamlet.

Finally, violets are a symbol of beliefs and many people imagine Ophelia gives these to Horatio because at this point, he is the only real one which she still has trust in. Also, although Ophelia will not realize it, Horatio is the one person Hamlet still trusts and has faith in as well" ( "Need for", 2012)


Poison plays a huge role in Hamlet. It is a symbol of betrayal, problem, deceit, revenge and loss of life. Hamlet uses the apparition of his daddy, King Hamlet, and discovers the entire report of how he was killed by Claudius. Ruler Hamlet says, "Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole/ With drink of cursed hebenon in a vial, /And in the porches of my ears does pour".

When Claudius eliminates King Hamlet by pouring poison into his ears, it shows how the dependence on power can lead to corruption. In this case, the necessity for power is exactly what made Claudius poison his own brother. Later, when they were planning on getting rid of Hamlet, Laertes and Claudius decide to use poison. Once the poison actually is necessary, it eventually ends up eliminating Queen Gertrude (thus betrayal), and finally causes the loss of life of Laertes, King Claudius and Hamlet. Quite simply this shows the way the unnecessary love of electricity can lead to negative consequences, this reminds us of the primary theme in macbeth

Light and darkness

When something bad is going to happen, darkness is brought up. Sweetheart Macbeth, for example, asks "heavy night" to come with the "smoke cigars of hell, " so her blade might not see the wound it creates in the peacefully sleeping King. The literal darkness Female Macbeth discusses seems to relate to the bad or "dark" take action she packages to commit.

When Girl Macbeth calls for the murderous spirits to avoid "heaven" from "peep[ing] through the blanket of the dark to cry 'Hold, Carry!'" she means that light (here associated with God, heaven, and goodness) offers coverage from evil and it is the only thing which could stop her from murdering Duncan. So, it seems sensible that when Sweetheart Macbeth descends to madness, she insists on always possessing a candle or, "light" with her as though the light might protect her contrary to the evil forces she herself summoned in Function I, landscape v. However, the candlelight doesn't seem to did her any good, for she is too far vanished and commits suicide.

Interestingly enough, Macbeth responds to the news of Female Macbeth's suicide by proclaiming "away, out quick candle". Now, the candle's fire has turned into a like a icon for her short life and unexpected death. Similarly, Banquo's torchlight (the one that illuminates him just enough so his murderers can see what they're doing) is also extinguished the moment he's killed. Also, on the evening when Ruler Duncan is murdered, Lennox reports that the hearth in his chimney was mysteriously "blown" out.

Eight kings:

When Macbeth trips the witches and requirements to know whether or not Banquo's heirs will become kings, they summon a eyesight of eight kings, the last of which keeps a reflection that demonstrates on many more such kings. Macbeth is absolutely unhappy about the fact that these are Banquo's heirs. It is critical to remember that one of the kings in the mirror is actually positioning two orbs and it is a symbolic representation of King Adam I of Great britain (a. k. a. Ruler Wayne VI of Scotland), who followed his derivation back again to Banquo. At James's coronation wedding ceremony in Britain (1603), he held two orbs (one representing Britain and the other representing Scotland). We can not dismiss the actual fact that King Wayne was a major patron of Shakespeare, and that the Bard here shows his credit debt of appreciation to the King by exploring his Scottish roots and confirming the derivation of English ruler.

Bloody daggers and hands

Blood is mentioned a lot in this play. Blood therefore of genuine wounds is almost ubiquitous, from the blood loss Captain initially to Macbeth's hemorrhage head at the end. However, it's the imagined bloodstream that arguably has the biggest effect as a symbol. When Macbeth considers murdering Ruler Duncan, he views a floating "dagger of your brain" that factors him in the direction of the sleeping king's room. While Macbeth miracles if his brain is messing with him, the dagger becomes covered in imaginary blood vessels, which anticipates the way that very real daggers will be tainted when Macbeth murders Ruler Duncan.

It's still not clear where the images result from. Maybe it's the witches or Macbeth's creativeness or maybe its Macbeth being tempted to check out or warned not to pursue the hallucination. Eventually, dreamed blood starts to symbolize guilt for both Macbeth and Girl Macbeth. After he murders Duncan, Macbeth supposes that even "Great Neptune's ocean" cannot wash away his stain of guilt. This is obviously in response to Lady Macbeth's command word that Macbeth "go get some water / and wash this filthy see" from his hands. The theory that water alone couldn't purify the pair after such vulgar intentions seems laughable, especially when Girl Macbeth famously curses the imaginary "spot" of blood she can't seem to be to wash from her guilty hands. After Macbeth kills his good friend Banquo, who comes back as a ghost, Macbeth announces that "blood will beget blood", and his image of wading in a river of blood vessels sums in the lesson: once you've gone way enough in spilling it, you might equally well keep on heading. LADy Macbeth is wanting to clean the bloodstream off her hands and even though its washed off of the guilt isn't

Dead children

You may have observed this play is filled with dead newborns and slain children. The witches put to their cauldron a "finger of birth-strangled babe" and then summon an apparition of your bloody child that says Macbeth will never be harmed by any man "of female born". Also, Fleance witnesses his father's murder before practically being killed himself, Macbeth eliminates Young Siward, and also Macduff's young son, his "very chicken, " is named an "egg" before he's murdered.

If we think about it, the play seems fixated on what happens when family lines are extinguished, which is most likely what Macbeth has in mind when he requests that his foes' children be killed. His determination to murder children is a sign that he's passed the point of no go back. We can trace all this back to Macbeth's anger that Banquo's "children shall be kings" and Macbeth's children will not. Recall the way he deplores that, when the witches predicted he'd be ruler, they positioned a "fruitless crown" on his head and a "barren scepter" in his hands.

When Macbeth kills Duncan and calls for the crown, Malcolm is rejected "the scheduled of labor and birth. " At the end of the play, order is rebuilt with the guarantee of Malcolm being crowned as the rightful king. Also, we realize that Banquo's range will rule for decades to come. So, it's somewhat fitting that, in the end, Macbeth is killed by a guy who was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb. (Macduff, who turns out to be the guy who is not "of female given birth to. " He was supplied through cesarean section, which doesn't count number to be "born" in this play. )

In final result, we can say that Shakespeare included a lot of symbolism throughout his has which portrayed Shakespeare's life, time frame, and communications he wanted to get across to his audience. Most of these symbols are amazing, because they symbolize human nature this is the same in every eras of their time.

Work cited

The Modern Language Review, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan. , 1947), pp. 9-23 Publicized by: Modern Humanities Research Association Article Stable Link: http://www. jstor. org/stable/3716953

St. Rosemary Educational Organization. "Important Icons in Hamlet. " http://schoolworkhelper. net/. St. Rosemary Educational Organization, Last Upgrade: 2012. Web. Retrieved on: Sunday 16th Dec 2012. http://schoolworkhelper. net/important-symbols-in-hamlet/.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Love as Faith based Worship in Romeo and Juliet" Shmoop. com. Shmoop University, Inc. , 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Shmoop Editorial Team. (November 11, 2008). Plants and Poison in Romeo and Juliet. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www. shmoop. com/romeo-and-juliet/plants-poison-symbol. html

Shmoop Editorial Team. (November 11, 2008). Sex and Death in Romeo and Juliet. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www. shmoop. com/romeo-and-juliet/sex-death-symbol. html

Shmoop Editorial Team. (November 11, 2008). Thumb Biting in Romeo and Juliet. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www. shmoop. com/romeo-and-juliet/thumb-biting-symbol. html

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