Supernatural And Morality In Macbeth

1703 Words7 Pages
This aspect of Macbeth as a work of cultural 'ordering ' could, of course, only make claims to 'truth ' within a cosmology, which accommodated witchcraft beliefs. The Bible largely defined that cosmology. There are, indeed, interesting parallels between Macbeth and the story of Saul and the Witch of Endor in the Book of Samuel (I Samuel XXVIII), a text which was dealt with by nearly every Renaissance treatise on witchcraft. Jane Jack has explored this parallel in ["Macbeth, King James and the Bible," ELH, 22 (1955)] where she writes:

Like Saul, Macbeth hears from the witches the confirmation of what he most fears. The crisis of the story is the victory of the witches: the resolution of the story is the judgement passed on Macbeth at the end—the same judgement that is passed on Saul: 'So Saul dyed for his transgression, that he committed against the word of the
…show more content…
` over The Witch of Edmonton (1621), for instance. Moreover, it cannot be said that the witches in Macbeth provide the only explanatory element in the play. If their prophecies provide one motive for the killing of a king, the radical instability of the concept of 'manliness ' is sufficient to precipitate the deed. But it would be misleading to interpret this over determination as a conflict between supernatural and natural modes of explanation, since, within the cultural context, there was no necessity to choose between those modes. (For example, Mother Sawyer in The Witch of Edmonton is at first abused as a witch merely because, as she complains, 'I am poor, deform 'd and ignorant ' (II. i. 3). But the fact that she is presented sympathetically as a scapegoat—the natural explanation—is not seen as contradicting the fact that she becomes a witch—the supernatural explanation—and therefore presumably 'deserves ' her death.) Nevertheless, the coexistence of those modes suggests that the structural closures that I have been examining do not

More about Supernatural And Morality In Macbeth

Open Document