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Kingship in Macbeth

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Kingship in Macbeth The Elizabethans believed that all creatures in the world had an order where they belonged in the "grand scheme of things." They believed that God had the most power, then his angels, then the king, then the lords and ladies, then the rich people, then the poor people and finally the animals and creatures of the sea. This is known as the great chain of being. They also believed that if one of the "links" were broken, due to unnatural causes, then chaos would reign because the chain will not be able to support the other links. The Elizabethan worldview was that the universe was strictly ordered. God was at the pinnacle of the "chain of being" and at His feet were His angels. Next in line was the king who was considered to be ordained by God and be His ambassador on earth. As the king is the first earthly figure in the chain, he was deemed to possess a divine right to be at the pinnacle of earthly society. He was also thought to inherit all his power and authority from God and therefore anything that the king decreed was true and indisputable. ...read more.


His life is now withered and he has nothing to live for. Macbeth is again envious of Duncan, as he has been throughout the play as he realises that the only thing that can "cure" him and his wife are their deaths. This relates back to the earlier comment that "Duncan is in his grave; after life's fitful fever he sleeps well". He longs to be relieved from the troubles of this world. Duncan is however a very trusting person who perhaps, naively, places too much trust in some; he is betrayed by the Thane of Cawdor and then demonstrates justice by condemning him to death. Duncan possesses the ability to inspire courage and loyalty in his people; Macbeth is initially inspired as he fought for Duncan "as cannons overcharg'd with double cracks". This shows how much influence Duncan has on his subjects and how he is able to inspire such fierce loyalty. This also makes Macbeth think about the repercussions that are bound to arise after Duncan's murder: "his virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-tongu'd, against the deep damnation of his taking off". Here, he implies that if Duncan is murdered, his virtues will have the power of angels, and voices like trumpets, to cry out against the deed. ...read more.


The repetition of the word "new" gives the impression that this is a recent development brought about by Macbeth's tyrannical rule and that this problem is on a national scale. Macduff believes that the only hope for Scotland is its legitimate heir before it "sinks beneath the yoke" and descends into hell. This point clearly illustrates the fact that the country is a reflection of its king and that the legitimate heir is needed to restore order and harmony to Scotland. As the scene progresses, Macduff damns Macbeth by listing some of his flaws as a king. "I grant him bloody, luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful..." And yet in the same breath he praises Edward the Confessor as lists his divine qualities: "justice, verity, temperance, stableness, bounty..." This point illustrates that although Macbeth strives to be an equal to Duncan and Edward, he will never come close as he has broken the chain of being and stepped into the realm of evil Macbeth's regicide also produces repercussions is the cosmic world. Nature is turned upside down as described by Lennox the morning after the murder; "Then night has been unruly", "Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death", "The earth was feverous and did shake". All these cosmic reactions to Duncan's murder symbolise the severing of the chain of being. Jason Duke 14/09/2002 1 ...read more.

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