Macbeth by
William Shakespeare is known widely for its advanced use of language. The play
has intelligently crafted lines, from words having double meanings to the
subtle foreshadowing of important plot points throughout the duration of the
play. For an example, Lady Macbeth has a nightmare where she is reliving the
murder of Duncan and his guards. The phrase, “Hell is murky” is ambiguous. This
line can both be taken figuratively and literally. In a literal sense, blood was
everywhere after the murder, hence why she believes everything around her is
“murky”. For figuratively, everything Lady Macbeth has had to do haunts her
which has begun to make her normal life a living hell. Although she isn’t
actually there, it feels real to her. As well as this example, Shakespeare also
uses the idea of nature to represent insightful things that people can learn
from today.

            In the
beginning, nature symbolizes life. After Macbeth is informed that King Duncan has given him the
title of the thane of Cawdor, Macbeth starts to trust the witches and their
prophecies. However, he begins to worry about what he will have to do to become
even more powerful: “This supernatural soliciting / Cannot be ill, cannot be
good. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success / Commencing in a
truth? I am thane of Cawdor. / If good, why do I yield to that suggestion /
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair / And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
/ Against the use of nature…” (1.3.143-150).  The word, in this
example, means the natural way of life. Macbeth finds himself torn even though
the witches’ words were not actual promises. He puts
full faith in them, believing that the only way he can become king is to murder
his friend, Duncan. This allows the next use of nature to come in. Once
Macbeth comes to his senses and finally realizes what he has done, he becomes
horrified and guilt consumes him. Macbeth was unable to murder the guards,
especially once they began to mysteriously talk of him killing sleep while they
were sleeping. Macbeth becomes almost nonsensical, saying aloud: “—the innocent
sleep…Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, / Chief nourisher in
life’s feast” (2.2. 51-52). In this line, nature means a tainted life that needs
sleep (or just a peaceful mind) to forget all of its troubles. Macbeth has actually
killed his own innocence and will forever be haunted by the nature of his
crimes, even in his dreams.

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             One main theme in Macbeth is the corruption of ones’ morals from greed and power. Macbeth
is a prime example of this. By the end of the play, he embraces evil. He while
Scotland withers. “Each
new morn / New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on the
face, that it resounds / As if it felt with Scotland” (4.3 5-8). Due
to this, the meaning of nature begins to shift from life to morality. Malcom
calls Macbeth “treacherous” but then backtracks, understanding why Macbeth has
become way he is, “A good and virtuous nature may recoil / In an imperial
charge” (4.3 23-24).  Shakespeare makes a
very profound and progressive point. An abundance of power can deteriorate even
the best of people.

            The
shift between the meaning of the word is purposely linked to Macbeth’s
character arc. The literal nature changed with him. The more inhumane Macbeth
became, the more nature struck back. “Thou
seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act, / Threatens his bloody stage. By
th’ clock ’tis day, / And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp” (2.4.5-7). This quote is said by Ross, one of the
Scottish noblemen, soon after Macbeth murdered the former king. Ross blames the
incident for it being dark when it is supposed to be daytime. Clearly, it’s an unnatural
act by nature, just like the death of the innocent king. Throughout
the play, it becomes apparent that Macbeth is tied to nature. Shakespeare
writes nature as if it follows the basic principles of morality. By using these
principles, murder is ruled to be the unnatural and unlawful taking of life. Macbeth
broke this rule a numerous amount of times, thus forcing nature to try to find
balance. Nature is a valuable word in Macbeth that helps allow the reader to
have a better understanding of humanity.

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