Reversal Of Nature In Macbeth Term Paper


"(Bloom, 41) Any act of evil is seen thus to change the basic structure of the universe and to transform nature into a desolated chaos. It is not only the natural, physical environment that becomes extremely chaotic through evil, but the human nature as well. All through the play, Lady Macbeth calls upon the forces of evil to keep at bay the "compunctious visitings of nature." It is thus plainly shown that there can be no enactment of malignancy without a reversal of human nature: "The raven himself is hoarse / That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan / Under my battlements. Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / of direst cruelty! make thick my blood; / Stop up the access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between / the effect and it!"(1.5.40-51) the invocation that Lady Macbeth addresses to the spirits, urging them to "unsex her" is also significant: what she asks for is to be made infertile, and therefore to be herself transformed into an unnatural being, that can have enough force to murder. The chain of murders that follow the initial murder of Duncan also points to the fact that once unleashed, the malefic forces will take over man and nature and will be very hard to stop. Also, Lady Macbeth's frequent complaints against Macbeth's nature which is, according to her too human for murder, evince the same idea that wickedness can only reign when humanity and naturalness are somehow suffocated. The tyranny of evil is thus the equivalent of a reversal of nature. When Macbeth is hunted by Duncan's ghost, he realizes the stabs looked like " a breech in nature"(2.3.139), thus suggestively linking the murderous marks on the human body with the marks that such an act inevitably leaves upon nature, emptying it of its meaning. The holes in nature are symbolic and point to the hollowness...


Everything is ultimately reversed. As Lady Macbeth urges her husband, he has to pretend and look like a "innocent flower" with a serpent underneath it (1.5. 73-74). Again, this imagery taken from nature suggests that humanness must be curbed and used only as a mask, in order to perform evil.
Thus, Shakespeare's play underlines the unnaturalness of evil, that once performed even against a single human being, threatens to bring general confusion to the entire world. In this context, life becomes meaningless like a "tale told by an idiot: "Out, out, brief candle! / Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / and then is heard no more: it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." (5. 5.23-8) Murder as an act of evil, can cause loss of meaning in the world, which becomes only "sound and fury" instead of order and coherence. The reversal of the moral values, represented in the beginning of the play by the turning of the fair into the foul dislocates the general order of creation. A single act of murder brings about a whole series of malignant deeds, and these in their turn affect the natural processes and the course of normal life. Thus, Shakespeare's play advocates that any kind of evil is a crime against nature itself, against human nature, and against the divine order of the universe.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold ed. William Shakespeare's Macbeth. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Paul a. "Macbeth and the Gospelling of Scotland." In Shakespeare as Political Thinker, edited by John E. Alvis and Thomas G. West, pp. 315-51. Wilmington: ISI Books, 2000.

Coursen, H.R. Macbeth: A Guide to the Play. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Lowenthal, David. "Macbeth: Shakespeare Mystery Play," in Interpretation:…

Cite this Document:

"Reversal Of Nature In Macbeth" (2007, April 20) Retrieved December 5, 2023, from

"Reversal Of Nature In Macbeth" 20 April 2007. Web.5 December. 2023. <>

"Reversal Of Nature In Macbeth", 20 April 2007, Accessed.5 December. 2023,

Related Documents

Shakespeare and Insanity An Analysis of Insanity in Four Plays by Shakespeare Shakespeare lived at a time when the old medieval Catholic world was splitting apart and giving rise to the new modern Protestant world. In the midst of this real conflict, Shakespeare depicts on stage several different characters that go mad. Some feign madness, some truly lose their minds, and some are bewitched by the maddening charms of love potions. This

Shakespeare Tragedies

Shakespeare Never Read Aristotle? Or, the dynamic forms of catharsis and tragic flaws in Shakespeare's plays Shakespeare's most beloved plays are his tragedies. If one were to list his best and most popular plays: Othello, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, and so forth, one would find the list comprised almost entirely of tragedies. So it would not be amiss to say that much of the modern literary conception of theatrical

Othello As a Tragic Hero

Thesis Statement Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragic hero according to the definition of Aristotle. First, he is a man of noble stature. Second, he is good—but not perfect—and his fall is directly attributable to his own guilty actions. Third, his fall is tragic—the combination of his greatness and his own responsibility in causing his own fall. Fourth, the misfortune Othello suffers is enormous and due to the fact that he himself

searching for an example that follows Aristotle's principles for creating the perfect tragedy, we need look no further than William Shakespeare's play, Othello. According to Aristotle, a tragedy must possess certain characteristics. These include a plot that is easily remembered and structured to arouse pity and fear within the audience. Additionally, Aristotle writes, "Such an effect is best produced when the events come on us by surprise; and the