MacBeth Quotes: Upset of the Natural Order

‘It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman, that gives the stern’st goodnight.’ As the murder was committed, the call of an owl was heard. This is significant because owls signify death in many cultures, including in Ancient Rome and Renaissance England, where it was thought that the cry of an owl meant that someone had just died. The ‘fatal bellman’ was someone who rang a bell if somebody was near death in old England. Animals are upset at the murder, the natural order has been upset.
‘I could not say amen.’ After the murder, MacBeth tried to bless the scene, but couldn’t. He finds this very alarming. ‘Amen’ traditionally represents agreement, and MacBeth has rebelled, and so the natural order has been upset.
‘I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry.’ Animals and nature are upset with MacBeth. The natural order has been offset.
‘The night was unruly.’ Use of pathetic fallacy. The eve of thr murder has been wild and stormy, as though nature itself is enraged.
‘The obscure bird clamoured the livelong night.’ The owl was said to screech all night, a bad omen.
‘Some say the Earth was feverous, and did shake.’ Pathetic fallacy. The impact of the death was so great that there was an earthquake.
‘A falcon, towering in her pride of place, was by a mousing owl hawked at, and killed.’ An analogy of the underdog killing the ruler – like MacBeth killing the king. An upset of the natural hierarchy.
‘And Duncan’s horses turned wild … as they would make war with mankind. ‘Twas said they ate each other.’ Duncan’s pets are enraged at what has happened, crazed and angered, where they were once gentle.

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