Death has played a vital role in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Whether used for foreshadowing upcoming events, or causing immediate disorder in their world, death has proven to be one of the most foretelling and frequent experiences in Macbeth. Amongst the frequent incidents of death, Duncan’s death is most notable for its impact in the Shakespearean world. Being a noble and well-loved king, Duncan is most eminent for his innocence throughout his lifetime. Often times, having an angelic figure slaughtered in a manner that is beyond sickening provokes various changes in Shakespeare’s plays. The death of Duncan is no exception. Duncan’s demise has caused the obscuring of the natural world, changes in Macbeth’s attitude, and the eventual suicide of Lady Macbeth.
Immediately after Duncan’s murder, nature’s wrath had already commenced to take part in the upheaval of the world. As Lennox responds to the situation, it is evident that the natural world has turned against normality. Lennox says, “New hatch’d to the woeful time; the obscure bird / Clamour’d the live-long night: some say the earth / Was feverous and did shake” (2.3.63-65). This quote marks the commencement of the upcoming chaos in the natural world. He proves the upcoming disorder of nature before even finding out about Duncan’s death. The “obscure bird” as Lennox says, describes the owl (a symbol of warning of death) has been present in the night. In the following morning, it is no different. Nature’s wrath has sworn a plague upon the light of day. Ross says:
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp:
Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame, ...
And Duncan’s horses- a thing most strange and
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turn’d wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,...