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In Macbeth, how is the theme of "a crime against nature" reinforced in Act II, Scene iii.

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cindylee1 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 11, 2010 at 3:40 PM via web

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In Macbeth, how is the theme of "a crime against nature" reinforced in Act II, Scene iii.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 11, 2010 at 8:37 PM (Answer #1)

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Elizabethans regarded the crime of regicide--killing a king--as a terrible thing, so terrible in fact that nature itself would revolt against it and reveal its discontent in strange signs and unpredictable happenings. This is something that can be seen in this scene directly before the discovery of the death of Duncan, when Lennox and Macbeth are talking together. Note what Lennox says about the night:

The night has been unruly: where we lay,

Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,

Lamentings heard i'th'air; strange screams of death,

And prophesying with accents terrible

Of dire combustion, and confus'd events,

New hatch'd to th'woeful time, the obscure bird

Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth

Was feverous, and did shake.

Note Macbeth's rather curt response: "'Twas a rough night," which seems to cover up his guilt at what he knows to be the real reason behind these portents. Clearly, something terrible has happened in the murder of Duncan, and nature itself is raging against Macbeth's crime.

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