What is happening in the natural world the night that Duncan is murdered in Macbeth?  Elizabethan England believed that the King was appointed by God. How do the...



What is happening in the natural world the night that Duncan is murdered in Macbeth?

 

Elizabethan England believed that the King was appointed by God. How do the disruptions to the natural world support this idea?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the night that King Duncan is murdered, there is a terrible storm outside and many strange sounds are heard.  When Macduff and Lenox arrive at Macbeth's home, Lenox tells of the night happenings:

"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." (II.iii.53-59)

The unsettled nature of the environment suggests that something out of the natural order has occurred.  Further, just before Macbeth reports to Lady Macbeth that he has gone through with the murder, she mentions the shriek of the owl:

"It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman, which gives the stern'st good-night." (II.ii.3-4)

The owl is also an element of nature that suggests that something is amiss, particularly that something/someone has died ("good-night").  Shakespeare has used these elements of nature as symbols to represent the death of King Duncan and to foreshadow the disorder that will be brought to Scotland under the rule of Macbeth.

Read the study guide:
Macbeth

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