Macbeth: Contrasts of Nature

Page 1 of 3

Macbeth: Contrasts of Nature

By | October 1999
Page 1 of 3
Macbeth: Contrasts of Nature

Georganne Hampton

In the play, Macbeth, Shakespeare uses contrasts of nature in various ways. He consistently shows us that Macbeth and his wife's actions go against nature.
The first lines of the play are a condensed version of the unnaturalness of things to come. "In thunder, lightning or in rain?" ( I, i, 2). In nature, thunder, lightening and rain occur together, but Shakespeare's use of the word "or" infers the unnatural occurrence of one without the others. "When battles lost and won" ( I, i, 4), is also not a natural occurrence. Battles are either lost or won. Shakespeare is implying the future opposites of nature in the forthcoming play. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I, i, 11), further shows the use of inversions and paradoxs in nature that Shakespeare will use throughout the play.

One of the main controversies of nature for the reader is that in spite of Macbeth's evil deeds, we still find him likeable. We see him in the same way that the King does when he welcomes him by saying, "O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman" (I, ii, 24). We perceive him as valiant, because he is afraid of sacrificing his humanity. "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantasticle. / Shakes so my single state of man that function / Is smothered in surmise and nothing is / But what is not" (I, iii, 139-41). Macbeth has doubts about the predictions of the witches. He knows that it could be a trick and his misgivings make him seem to be a better person.

Another thing that makes Macbeth likeable to the reader is the contrast with his wife. It is clear from her beginning that she is evil. She has reservations about Macbeth not being evil enough. "Yet do I fear thy nature" (I, V, 14). She fears he is too good to do the kind of evil deeds that she is planning.

After Macbeth murders the King, he realizes the extent of evil that he has committed, but also realizes that the deed is done and there is nothing that...