In the Elizabethan Era, people’s lives were governed by a concept called: The great chain of being. The great chain of being is the idea that God has dictated the role and duties of every person, but when people stray from their roles or duties, they are punished by God. As this idea was generally accepted, it is likely that Shakespeare incorporated the idea of the great chain of being into his play, Macbeth. The story centers upon a lord named Macbeth, thane of Glamis and Cawdor, who usurps and kills the king. As God has put Macbeth in the role of a thane, that is the role he must live by. However by killing Duncan, a man he owes allegiance to, Macbeth has disrupted the great chain of being. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is heavily influenced by the idea of the great chain of being, we witness this when: Macbeth is punished for his actions through insanity and death, Duncan’s son wins back the throne, and nature itself becomes warped by Macbeth upsetting the great chain of being.
The most obvious incorporation of this idea comes after Duncan’s death. The world has been so warped by this upheaval in the great chain of being that nature itself is altered. The day following the king's death, Ross, a Scottish gentleman and an old man are discussing how many odd occurrences have taken place. The first being when the sky remains dark during the middle of the day. Ross states: “Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man's act, / Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock, 'tis day, / And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp: Its't night's predominance, or the day's shame, / That darkness does the face of earth entomb, / When living light should kiss it?(Shakespeare 2.4.7-12).” Another such strange occurrence is a mousing owl killing a falcon, most likely a metaphor for a thane killing a king. The old man says: “'Tis unnatural, / Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last, / A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place, / Was by a...
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