How does Macbeth respond to restrictions of the chain of being, especially with the killing of Duncan?My thesis, is that he is not evil, just rebelling against the restrictions of the social...

How does Macbeth respond to restrictions of the chain of being, especially with the killing of Duncan?

My thesis, is that he is not evil, just rebelling against the restrictions of the social hierarchy of the chain of being. However, i need evidence from the book to prove that.

Asked on by spazzdusk

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is an interesting argument, and one that has been made for a number of Shakespearean villians, most notably Edmund from King Lear. As for Macbeth, it is certainly plausible that you are on to something, but I would actually argue that the unnaturalness of the act (violating the natural order of things) makes Macbeth a more unsympathetic character rather than exonerating him somewhat. His actions, breaking the natural, even divinely-ordained Chain of Being as they do, unleash chaos on Scotland.

Shakespeare clearly intends to emphasize the unnatural, which is why he has the witches appear before anyone else in the play. Their chant that "Fair is foul, Foul is fair" also emphasizes the upending of the natural order of things, or the chain of being if you like. Additionally, Duncan, who sits atop the hierarchy of Scotland, is portrayed in a very sympathetic light. Not only is he divinely chosen to wear the crown, but he seems to be an honest, affectionate, loyal monarch as well. In short, Macbeth's actions, which lead to him usurping the throne of Scotland, would have been understood by Shakespeare's audiences as evil and unnatural precisely because they broke the Chain of Being.  

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