Why does Shakespeare use the repetition of weather/nature in Macbeth?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth, imagery referring to weather and nature is repeated throughout. His use of weather/nature imagery highlights the importance that Nature (capitalized to show emphasis) is not happy (nature personified) with what is happening in Scotland.

The first time nature is mentioned/seen in the play is in the opening act. "Thunder and lightening" accompany the witches' introduction to the play. Viewers/readers of the play immediately notice that Nature is at odds (given the storms).

Later, in act one, Macbeth is about to meet the witches. He states that he has never seen a day which was so "foul and fair." He is referring, not only to the infamous paradox, but the fact that nature seems to be at odds.

One poignant image of nature/weather appears in act two, scene three. Duncan has just been murdered by Macbeth and Lennox, upon arriving at Inverness, tells Macbeth that nature would only be acting as it is when "terrible" and confused events" are at hand. Lennox ends the conversation about weather by stating that he has never seen nature as it is that night.

LENNOX
54 The night has been unruly: where we lay,
55 Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
56 Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death,
57 And prophesying with accents terrible
58 Of dire combustion and confused events
59 New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
60 Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
61 Was feverous and did shake.

MACBETH
'Twas a rough night.

LENNOX
62 My young remembrance cannot parallel
63 A fellow to it.

Therefore, nature/weather plays a major role in regards to the fact that nature, itself, becomes unruly when acts of man are unruly.

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