Macbeth, and all of William Shakespeare’s other works include several universal themes. Shakespeare incorporates these themes into his works to emphasize meanings and points. Several times in Macbeth nature is out of order which coincides with unpleasant events occurring. This happens many times in Macbeth. Shakespeare demonstrates this using setting, characters, and dialog.
One of the major ways Shakespeare shows disturbances in nature is use of setting. “Thunder and Lightning.” (Shakespeare 1) This is how Shakespeare describes the setting before the play begins. The thunder and lightning are disturbances in nature and a great day is not filled with thunder and lightning (Ravi 1). The three Weird Sisters enter in the midst of all the thunder and lightning. Their appearance could be considered an unpleasant event because whenever the Weird Sisters appear bad things happen. “When shall we three meet again / In thunder, lightning, or in rain” (Shakespeare 2). This tells the reader that the witches’ meeting with Macbeth
will be filled with thunder, lightning, and rain. A meeting like that is very foreboding (Ravi 1).
Another method Shakespeare uses to develop the theme is the characters’ dialog with other characters. “On Tuesday last, / A falcon, towering in her pride of place, / Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d,” (Shakespeare 9) said the Old Man to Ross. The falcon was high in the sky and an owl, who usually stays low to the ground to hunt mice went up to the falcon and killed it (clicknotes 3). This occurred shortly before Macbeth murdered King Duncan. The night Macbeth murders Duncan his best horses eat each other (Shakespeare 9). MacDuff comes in with the verdict that the king’s sons bribed the servants to kill Duncan and Ross says “Gainst nature still!” (Shakespeare 10) He is saying that it is just as unlikely that an owl killed a hawk and horses ate each other, that Duncan’s sons had him murdered (clicknotes 3).
Yet another way Shakespeare conveys the theme is through the use of characters. “What are these / So wither’d and so wild in their attire, / That look not like the inhabitant’s o’ the earth, / And yet are on’t.” (Shakespeare 6) This is Banquo describing the Three
Witches. The Weird Sisters are disturbances in nature. They have beards like men, but are supposed to be women. Whenever the Weird Sisters appear nothing good happens (clicknotes 1).
“Stop up the access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between / The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, / And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, / Wherever in sightless substances / You wait on nature’s mischief!”
Lady Macbeth is trying to get nature out of order so that she will have what is necessary when it is time to kill Duncan.
In Conclusion, Shakespeare uses many different ways to communicate a theme to the reader. He makes use of setting several times in Macbeth. Shakespeare also uses dialog and characters to convey the theme of nature throughout Macbeth. Shakespeare uses all three ways expertly to emphasize the theme that when nature is out of order, it causes bad events to occur.
“Macbeth Navigator: Themes: Nature and Unnatural.” Online.
Internet. 3 October, 2000. Available WWW: http://clicknotes.com/Macbeth/nature.html.
“Major Themes in Macbeth.” Online. Internet. 3 October,
2000. Available WWW: http://www.imsa.edu/ravi/
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The Language of Literature.
Eds. Arthur N. Applebee, et al. Evanston, Illinois : McDougal Littel, 2000. 327-416