After a close reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the most prominent influence has been narrowed down to the biblical imagery that Shakespeare incorporated into the play. Macbeth makes many direct quotes towards spiritual beings. William Shakespeare's use of biblical imagery in Macbeth reflects our predilection toward literature that reflects morality, prophecy, and mythology.
Morality can is defined as having the quality of being in accords with standards or right or good conduct. Knowing “good from bad” is a morality trait. There is an evident line between good and evil shown in Macbeth. It is not hidden that Macbeth is a bloodthirsty fiend. He will always be the bad guy. Based on this, Macbeth is obviously a morality play. In Howard Felprin’s criticism of Macbeth, “A painted devil: Macbeth”, he describes that there are forces working to make Macbeth the fiend that he becomes, “…with its malign forces of temptation…” A major story, or piece of history you may call it, would be the crucifixion of Jesus. The first reference to the bible is in the second scene of the first act. Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain and Lennox walk into a room, and meet a bleeding sergeant. “Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, or memorize another Golgotha, I cannot tell” (I, ii). Golgotha was the place that Jesus was crucified. The reference to the biblical story in the sergeant’s speech can be seen as just a compliment to the two generals that crucified Christ. In relation to Macbeth, the sergeant is complimenting Macbeth and Banquo on their persistence and hostility. Shakespeare seems to have an underlying meaning in this manner, or maybe foreshadowing. The soldiers put Christ to death; Macbeth will put Duncan to death. Not to confuse Duncan as Christ, but more Christ like. He is the representative of good in this manner. That point of proof is backed up in act one, scene four, when Macbeth and Banquo are returning from battle and are received by Duncan. He tells them:
I have begun to plant thee, and will labor to make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo, That hast no less deserved, nor must be known No less to have done so, let me enfold thee And hold thee to my heart. (I, iv)
The basic idea of “planting” and “letting them flourish” can be found numerously in the Old Testament, in the book of Jeremiah, where it talks about Jehovah, “Thou hast planted them, and they have taken root: they will grow and bring forth fruit” (Jeremiah 12:2). Knowing that he will become king, Macbeth will destroy his “roots” which could be seen as the little bit of good that is left in his blackened heart. There are many more biblical references in the story of Macbeth that create the vivid imagery in ones head about this classic tale of betrayal.
A prophecy is the sure knowing of the future, and what is going to happen. Macbeth is sure getting him self into some double toil and trouble! The “Weird sisters” give Macbeth three prophesies. By them...