"Great Chain Of Being" Essays and Research Papers ..
USE IN SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH – The Great Chain of Being
While reading Macbeth I can see that the play illustrates the demise of the Great Chain of Being in a way that makes up the whole play. The Great Chain of Being theory was of great importance to Shakespeare's peers and was used by him to set up events in his plays. According to this theory, everything in the world had its position fixed by god. The major event that illustrates the demise of the Great Chain of Being was when Macbeth killed King Duncan, so he could become the King himself. The theory of Great Chain of Being indicates that any attempt to break the chain (what god has put in order) would cause the world to get out of control and lose its natural being. When Macbeth became the king after Duncan, Scotland went out of its natural order, and therefore the country became chaotic and full of disorder. The play Macbeth does surely agree with the Divine Rights of Kings, which indicates that God's chosen representative on earth would be the king, and if his position was violated it would destroy the perfect order in the universe, and in this case, Scotland. In the play it's expressed that because Macbeth became the king after Duncan and not the heir, Malcolm; it would not be possible for Macbeth to control Scotland against anything good, because God's wishes were already violated. It would not matter what Macbeth did, because it would always lead against the world being out of its natural order and Scotland would become chaotic no matter what. What the play reveals about fate and free will, is that their actions and lives were predestined to some extent. God would control their actions and have effect on human lives, but I do not think it was among his plans to kill King Duncan. As the Great Chain of Being and the Divine Rights of Kings indicate is that God would've set up a perfect plan, however, if this plan got interrupted the world's natural order would become chaotic and terrible. Humanists had a great faith in man's ability to shape his own future, even though it was believed that God had already made a plan for everyone. A great example which shows the distortion of Scotland under Macbeth's control is during Act 4, scene 3, when Ross enters to discuss the condition of Scotland; "Alas, poor country. Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot be call'd our mother, be our grave". In earlier scenes we have seen Macbeth's terrorism in action against the people of Scotland, especially how he slaughter Lady Macduff and her son. Ross now says that these sort of things happen every day, and that Scotland is just a terrible place to be for the time being.
USAGE IN POPE’S ESSAY – The Great Chain of Being
In the time of Shakespeare the great chain of being was used in everyday life to asses how close someone was to "Godliness", the lists used to determine where things fell ranged from common items to animals to people. at the top of the list for people were kings, who at the time were to be regarded as people who should be respected and worshipped even if they were tyrannical. The play illustrates the demise of the Great Chain of Being, while at the same time sums up the divine right of kings, because in the play Macbeth rises to kingdom (in a less than desired fashion) and according to the tiem and chain of beign should have been respected despite the fact that he ruled with an iron fist and killed many of his subjects and lords. Thus with the fall of Macbeth Shakespeare is attempting to illustrate how the Great Cahin of Being is a sham and should not be followed, while at the same Shakespeare is also trying to tell the audience that kings have no divine rights or glory, otherwise Macbeth would not have succumb to death or revolt from his own lords. Shakespeare also attempts to describe through the play that fate and free will do in fact have an outcome on the kings well being. Meaning that from the instant the play starts Macbeth is destined to die by the end, this being his fate, but because he has free will he can drive himself towards that inevitable end in nay direction he wants. In the case of the play Macbeth murdered Duncan, throwing himself and his wife into madness, while also developing an endless thirst for blood that ignited revolt among his lords, Macbeth drove towards his end with himself at the top. Thus Shakespeare is really trying to tell everyone that you have a pre-determined fate, but you have free will on how you get there, and that no one is exempt from this including kings.