The Subversion of Natural Order in "Macbeth"
The play "Macbeth" explores the existence of an alternative natural order existing alongside life as Macbeth knew it, which Macbeth chose to follow and which then defeated him. William Shakespeare explores this alternative order and its nexus with the natural order by exploring the transformation of three types of "nature" in "Macbeth." First, he explores the corruption of human nature through Macbeth's greed and ambition. Second, he explores the transformation of nature (which I shall distinguish by calling it Mother Nature) by aligning the weather in the play with Macbeth's actions. Third, he explores the subversion of the natural order of life in Scotland. Macbeth's nature undergoes subversion as he plans to betray his king and his country for his own personal ambition. Nature follows Macbeth's transformation, hanging dark and foreboding over the action in the play. Finally, the natural order of succession in Scotland is subverted by Macbeth's personal ambition.
One will never know whether Macbeth would have become King of Scotland had he not taken things into his own hands. But his decision to acquire the kingship by foul means is his first step in the play that begins the corruption of his and Lady Macbeth's natures and the subversion of the natural order of life as they knew it. Macbeth does not begin this subversion, however. The play begins with the three witches, who live and yet appear inhuman:
So wither'd, and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th'inhabitants o'th'earth,
And yet are on't? (Banquo, I. iii. 38-41).
It is the witches who offer Macbeth the opportunity to explore another side of the natural and who first suggest the possible subversion of the natural order of Scotland's hierarchy that could operate to his benefit.
The witches operate as the most overtly "natural" forces in the play, in the sense that word means "of natur...