It is possibly a couple of days after Duncan's murder. Ross and an old man meet somewhere in the
country beyond Macbeth's castle.
They speak about the abnormal activities in nature which they have personally witnessed. Macduff joins
them and speaks about Duncan's murder, as well as which way the suspicion lies.
We are informed that Macbeth is about to be crowned King of Scotland and of Macduff's decision not to
attend the coronation.
NATURE vs EVIL
In Shakespearian times, nature was considered to be God's playground, a place of peace and holiness.
Within this holiness lies human nature itself. A holy king -- like Duncan or Edward of England -- was
seen to have had the gift of healing in his hands.
Evil, however, can destroy all of this -- and evil comes into human nature through the devil. Once
corrupted, human nature will then wreak havoc in nature itself.
Shakespeare uses a clever counterbalance of good and evil in these scenes. While Act 1, Scene 6
presents the holiness of nature, Act 1, Scene 7 reveals the exact opposite: the triumph of evil in the
person of Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth has thought out the logic of his loyalty to Duncan and how he should be defending the king and
not murdering him. He is then confronted with a bullying wife who humiliates him into submission.
Lady Macbeth takes the perfect example of woman's nature -- a mother's natural instinct while suckling
her baby -- and overturns it: "I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from
his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this."
The audience is left aghast at this barefaced barbarity -- and then one witnesses Macbeth crumble to
become Lady Macbeth's lapdog once again.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?