Reading Macbeth through Conceptual Metaphor Analysis: PATH and CONTAINER Source Domains


  • Mirka Ćirović



conceptual metaphor, metaphorical linguistic expressions, Macbeth, PATH, CONTAINER, source domain


This paper applies the theory of conceptual metaphor to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth with the aim of understanding the characters, structure of the plot, individual lines, and the text as a whole in a more profound, in-depth manner. At the beginning, there is a brief reference to literary scholars’ growing interest in how individual authors develop metaphorical patterns which are revelatory of meanings that go beyond the level of language, into thought and comprehension of the abstract. Donald C. Freeman noticed that critical tradition has understood and wrote about Shakespeare’s Macbeth in terms of PATH and CONTAINER source domains. Following in his footsteps, this paper focuses on the metaphorical expressions from the play that are built upon PATH and CONTAINER conceptual metaphors, and proves that Shakespeare intensely structures our understanding of human nature and purposes governed by sombre desires of the unconscious through these exact modes of cognition. The analysis presents Macbeth’s blood-thirsty career in the form of a contained path, while the hallucinatory effects of the play and the questions of human nature are mainly visualized as containers. Besides showing that PATH and CONTAINER are dominant conceptual metaphors in the play, they are also seen in interaction with one another, and as intertwined with other complementary conceptual metaphors to build the philosophical, psychological, and cognitive basis of the play.


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How to Cite

Ćirović, M. (2021). Reading Macbeth through Conceptual Metaphor Analysis: PATH and CONTAINER Source Domains. Philologia, 17(1), 13–22.



Nauka o jeziku/Linguistics