In Macbeth, give one simple example of the Elizabethan Chain of Being.

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Great Chain of Being held that in a properly ordered world, a king ruled his subjects; if the throne was usurped, as it was in Macbeth when Duncan was murdered, disturbances would be seen in the natural world.

The natural world is indeed disturbed in the play. Here are several examples:

  • Act II, Scene 3: Duncan has been murdered, and before his body is discovered, Lennox tells Macbeth that chimneys have been blown down, a bird cried all through the night, and there were earth tremors.
  • Act II Scene 4: Ross notes to an old man that though it is day, it is dark as night.  The old man responds that an owl has killed a falcon. Ross adds that Duncan's well-trained horses broke out of their stalls and turned against their handlers.  The old man says, "'Tis said they eat each other." Ross confirms it, saying that he saw it happen.
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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purpleboots33 | Student

A king in the Great Chain of Being is said to had connection to God, so when he is murdered in Macbeth, and the princes flee, the balance of royal hiearchy is unstable. Therefore affecting the Great Chain of Being. When Macbeth becomes King its broken, because he is a noble and a noble was said to be unable to become king. The break  in the great chain of being is broken and causes chaos (personal, family, society, supernatural, nature and environment).