In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we are treated to the worst crime possible in Elizabethan England, usurping the crown. Macbeth not only usurps the crown, he does so by murder. The crown that is placed upon his newly-crowned head, therefore, is one that is begot through sin, evil, and unjust actions. Lady Macbeth is aware that something more than just succession or military conquest is helping Macbeth rob the clothes of the rightful king. Early in the play she expresses her determination to stop anything or anyone who gets in the way of this theft “And chastise with the valour of my tongue/All that impedes thee from the golden round,/Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem/To have thee crowned withal” (I. iv. 20-23).
Through murder and ambition that o’ervaults itself, Macbeth will be crowned in the king’s unjustly stolen robes. However, if fate and metaphysical aid are responsible for helping Macbeth win them, they are clothes he is never comfortable in because he, more than anyone, is aware of the unnatural means by which he acquired them. We see Macbeth’s disconcerted condition over this if we look at two clothing symbols, one that shows him proudly wear his justly won robes and one that shows him awkward in the robes that fit him loosely because they have come to him in an unjust manner. In Act I, Macbeth says “The Thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me/In borrow’d robes?” (Brooks 156). As Brooks (156) states “Macbeth loathes playing the part of the hypocrite—and actually does not play it too well.” However, later Macbeth appears proud of his new clothes. Yet, despite this pride, he wears Duncan’s garments in expectation of what will come later. This is why Lady Macbeth says to him “Was the hope drunk,/Wherein you dressed yourself?” (Brooks 157).
Because he walks in the stolen clothes of those that rightly deserve them, clothing imagery abounds in Macbeth to re