What are some examples of biblical imagery found in Macbeth?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Macbeth is full of Biblical imagery. Here are just a few examples.

In Act 1, Scene 2 The Captain is telling King Duncan of Macbeth's bravery in battle and describes the scene saying,

Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,
Or memorize another Golgotha,
The Golgotha mentioned here is a Biblical allusion to the place were Christ was crucified. Matthew 27:33 mentions Golgotha, otherwise known as, "The Place of the Skull."
In Act 1, Scene 3 Banquo talks with Macbeth about the witches saying,

But ’tis strange.

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
In II Corinthians 11:13-14 Paul talks about how Satan uses false apostles or prophesiers as his "instruments of darkness" and their truths are not to be trusted.
In Act 2, Scene 2 Lady Macbeth tries in vain to wash her hands of the blood of King Duncan. The imagery of unclean hands equalling a guilty heart can be traced back to Bible times and the crucifixion of Christ.
Matthew 27:24 says that Pilot publicly washed his hands, showing he wanted nothing to do with the furtherance of the trial of Jesus Christ. Pilot knew that the trial was unjust. There are many more of these references throughout the play. Remember, society during the time of Shakespeare would have been heavily influence by the King James Bible.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team