Macbeth byWilliam Shakespeare is known widely for its advanced use of language. The playhas intelligently crafted lines, from words having double meanings to thesubtle foreshadowing of important plot points throughout the duration of theplay. For an example, Lady Macbeth has a nightmare where she is reliving themurder of Duncan and his guards. The phrase, “Hell is murky” is ambiguous. Thisline can both be taken figuratively and literally. In a literal sense, blood waseverywhere after the murder, hence why she believes everything around her is”murky”.
For figuratively, everything Lady Macbeth has had to do haunts herwhich has begun to make her normal life a living hell. Although she isn’tactually there, it feels real to her. As well as this example, Shakespeare alsouses the idea of nature to represent insightful things that people can learnfrom today. In thebeginning, nature symbolizes life.
After Macbeth is informed that King Duncan has given him thetitle of the thane of Cawdor, Macbeth starts to trust the witches and theirprophecies. However, he begins to worry about what he will have to do to becomeeven more powerful: “This supernatural soliciting / Cannot be ill, cannot begood. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success / Commencing in atruth? 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 thisexample, means the natural way of life. Macbeth finds himself torn even thoughthe witches’ words were not actual promises. He putsfull faith in them, believing that the only way he can become king is to murderhis friend, Duncan. This allows the next use of nature to come in. OnceMacbeth comes to his senses and finally realizes what he has done, he becomeshorrified and guilt consumes him. Macbeth was unable to murder the guards,especially once they began to mysteriously talk of him killing sleep while theywere sleeping. Macbeth becomes almost nonsensical, saying aloud: “—the innocentsleep…Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, / Chief nourisher inlife’s feast” (2.2.
51-52). In this line, nature means a tainted life that needssleep (or just a peaceful mind) to forget all of its troubles. Macbeth has actuallykilled his own innocence and will forever be haunted by the nature of hiscrimes, even in his dreams. One main theme in Macbeth is the corruption of ones’ morals from greed and power. Macbethis a prime example of this. By the end of the play, he embraces evil. He whileScotland withers. “Eachnew morn / New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on theface, that it resounds / As if it felt with Scotland” (4.
3 5-8). Dueto this, the meaning of nature begins to shift from life to morality. Malcomcalls Macbeth “treacherous” but then backtracks, understanding why Macbeth hasbecome way he is, “A good and virtuous nature may recoil / In an imperialcharge” (4.3 23-24). Shakespeare makes avery profound and progressive point. An abundance of power can deteriorate eventhe best of people.
Theshift between the meaning of the word is purposely linked to Macbeth’scharacter arc. The literal nature changed with him. The more inhumane Macbethbecame, the more nature struck back. “Thouseest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act, / Threatens his bloody stage. Byth’ clock ’tis day, / And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp” (2.4.5-7).
This quote is said by Ross, one of theScottish noblemen, soon after Macbeth murdered the former king. Ross blames theincident for it being dark when it is supposed to be daytime. Clearly, it’s an unnaturalact by nature, just like the death of the innocent king. Throughoutthe play, it becomes apparent that Macbeth is tied to nature. Shakespearewrites nature as if it follows the basic principles of morality.
By using theseprinciples, murder is ruled to be the unnatural and unlawful taking of life. Macbethbroke this rule a numerous amount of times, thus forcing nature to try to findbalance. Nature is a valuable word in Macbeth that helps allow the reader tohave a better understanding of humanity.