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How important is the Elizabethan concept of Natural Order to our appreciation of 'Macbeth'?

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How important is the Elizabethan concept of Natural Order to our appreciation of 'Macbeth'? There are many ways in which the Elizabethan idea of the world's 'natural order' increases our appreciation of Macbeth. There are many references to unnatural occurrences throughout the play, such as "By th'clock 'tis day/ And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp." Elizabethans believed that any attempt to alter God's ordered universe was doomed to failure and chaos, and the King/Queen of the country was considered to have been chosen by God. Therefore, Macbeth's killing of King Duncan was considered to be breaking the 'natural order' of the world, thus bringing calamity to the country. The Elizabethans thought that displeasing God by destroying his 'natural order' would cause God to withdraw His hand from the 'natural order' and chaos would therefore descend upon the world. Macbeth damages this natural order by murdering the king in his sleep. He once was a brave knight of the king during the war against Norway, fighting valiantly ("For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name"). ...read more.


After murdering Duncan, Macbeth realises that water alone can't wash away the blood of Duncan from his hands ("Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No: this my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red."), since it is the blood of God's chosen one. As Macduff later said at the discovery of Duncan's body: "Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope/ The Lord's anointed temple and stole thence/ The life o'th'building." Now, with the murder of Duncan, the whole of God's Natural Order is turned upside-down: "Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair." Macbeth was then crowned king as Duncan's two sons both fled to two other countries. However, after several years of his reign, Scotland started suffering from the disruption of the Natural Order: "[Scotland] sinks beneath the yoke;/ It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a new gash/ Is added to her wounds." The actions of Macbeth caused God to become angry: "Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act/ Threatens his bloody stage." ...read more.


Malcolm, Duncan's oldest son, soon gathers an army to attack Macbeth. He may be a pathetic individual ([a] hardy soldier fought/ 'Gainst my captivity."), but he is God's choice to rule Scotland. He is the "sovereign flower" and will drown "the weeds" (Macbeth). Macbeth's castle is attacked, and he challenges Macduff to a fight. Even after he learns that Macduff had a Caesarean birth (and therefore he is able to kill Macbeth), he keeps fighting to his death, showing a small part of his old, brave and gallant self before he became Duncan's murderer and before he broke the Natural Order. Macbeth was "a gentleman on whom [Duncan] built/ An absolute trust." He was a noble man and a honourable one too. However, he is one of the good men who all too easily fall into evil's trap. This wasn't helped by the fact that Duncan didn't have much tact in selecting his hopeless son over Macbeth as his successor to the throne of Scotland. With the Elizabethan concept of Natural Order, our appreciation of Macbeth is increased. He is a good man who disrupts the Natural Order, and the resulting unnatural events destroy him. Alex Lines English Coursework FIRST DRAFT ...read more.

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