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Biblical and Mythological Allusions in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Stephany Desroches

on 9 July 2013

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Transcript of Biblical and Mythological Allusions in Shakespeare's Macbeth

Biblical and Mythological Allusions in Macbeth
"Except they meant to bathe in in reeking wounds; or memorize another Golgotha, I cannot tell. But I am faint, my gashes cry for help."
"...Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, with Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design moves like a ghost."
As seen, Biblical and Mythological allusions are a central part of Macbeth that underline the morals of all characters in the play. These morals were very important in Shakespeare's time period, especially in Macbeth in particular because all the characters are forced to make many decisions based on their morals. This makes Biblical and Mythological Allusions a very important part of Macbeth.
Act 1, Scene 2: Lines 39-42
Act 2, Scene 1: Lines 54-56
"...Get you gone, And at the pit of Archeron; Meet me i'th'morning."
Act 3, Scene 5: Lines 14-16
Roman Fool
"...Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell. Though all things foul would wear the brow of grace, Yet grace must still look so."
Act 4, Scene 3: Lines 22-24
"Why should I play the Roman fool and die on mine own sword?"
Act 5, Scene 8: Lines 1-2
The Bigger Picture:
This allusion enhances the mood of the scene because comparing the battlefield to the scene of Christ's crucifixion really depicts the horror of the battlefield that the Captain had just come from.
The Bigger Picture:
Archeron was one of the rivers of Hades. Basically, Hecate is telling the witch to meet her by the river in Hell. This enhances this mood of the scene because the fact that they're meeting at this mythological river in Hell makes their plans seem more creepy and devious.
The Bigger Picture:
This line talks about how there are still bright angels, even though the brightest (Lucifer) fell from God's grace. This illustrates the theme of the play that everything is not quite what it seems to be.
The Bigger Picture:
In these lines murder is being compared to the Roman Tarquin who came in the night to rape his friends virtuous wife. "Ravishing strides" implies that Tarquin is on his way to his rape just as Macbeth is on his way to murder Duncan. Therefore, this line is foreshadowing future events in the play, as well as reinforcing the dark mood of the scene.
The Bigger Picture:
Macbeth is referencing the Roman honour that demanded suicide rather than surrender when he talks about the "Roman fool". These lines reinforce Macbeth's bravery by saying he would not commit suicide and give up so easily on his battle.
Biblical and Mythological Allusions appear very often throughout the play Macbeth. These allusions are important to the play because they set a certain undertone. The biblical and mythological allusions speak volumes for the morality undertones of the play. These morals are a very central part of the theme of the play, which is why these allusions are so important.
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