Shakespeare uses many examples of bird and animal imagery in the book Macbeth. He was a master at incorporating imagery to show emotions and symbolize the good and/or bad parts of a situation. And during the time that Macbeth was wrote there was a common belief that a hierarchy was preordained by God (fate). And the animal kingdom was sought to be the second most important, giving animals a high place in the food chain; and in that the animal kingdom itself was understood to have its? own hierarchy. And that?s why the imagery of birds and animals helped to characterize, to show emotions, to foreshadow, make atmosphere a
supernatural nature, and to help build suspense; throughout the book the imagery and symbols were getting crueler and seemingly unmoral.
In the beginning of the book the Macbeth and Banquo just got back from battle, in which they won and one example of the animal imagery used it showed when the Sergeant said ?Yes; as sparrows, eagles; or the hare, the lion: If I say sooth, I must report they were as cannons overcharged with double cracks so they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe,? (1.2.24) This shows that even though Macbeth and Banquo had the odds against them, them kept on fighting and they never gave up. It shows this by saying they were like sparrows compared to eagles which shows that they were indeed the underdog, but they were scared, they didn?t run away, they were brave. In Act 1 Shakespeare also uses imagery to symbolize how delicate life is, ?The temple- haunting martlet, does approve, By his loved mansionry, that the heaven?s breath Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle: Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed The air is delicate,? (1.5.50). This explains the delicate nature of life. But that mood quickly changes by Act II.
In Act II to the nature of Shakespeare?s images start to get more violent and involve more guilt. One example is when Macbeth says, ?Whose hands are these? They?re plucking my eyes out!? (2.2.72), this shows that after he kills Duncan he starts to feel guilty, and it foreshadows that guilt and emotion might overtake Macbeth. There was also a image right before that that helped create some suspense with the image of animals, ?I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry,? (2.2.68). This shows that it was so quite, as if you could hear crickets, and an owl which is out at night and it?s a creep, sneaky animal because of that, hidden by the darkness. Later, he also compares a falcon towering in a pride of place to kill a killer that can?t be stopped and is drove by ambition.
Then in Act III of Macbeth Shakespeare uses birds and animals to characterize sneaky or vicious situations. For example when Macbeth said ?We have scotched the snake, not killed it: She?ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice remains in danger of her former tooth,? (3.2.104), Macbeth is comparing the snake to the threat of Banquo?s sons becoming the legacy of kings. He also uses scorpions to make an image by saying, ?O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife,? (3.2.106). This shows that he is like being haunted and he can?t stop thinking about how jealous he of Banquo that Banquo?s sons are probably going to be kings according to the Witches.
Towards the end of the book the images of bids and animals starts to show traits of coward and pride and a little guilt. ?Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where conspires are,? (4.1.140). The apparition is saying that Macbeth you shouldn?t be scared of anything, but there is some irony in there because he shouldn?t be scared of anyone woman born but Macduff is not woman born, so he could kill Macbeth while Macbeth thinks that he is unstoppable and he thinks he is the best. He also uses birds by saying ?Poor bird! Would you ever fear the net, or birdlime, traps or cages?? (4.2.148), this shows that Lady Macbeth is showing that Lady Macbeth is scared because Macbeth is scared. That also foreshadows Lady Macbeth suicide. And after Lady Macbeth dies Macbeth and Macduff fight each other and Macduff ends up killing Macbeth,