BIBLICAL MOTIFS IN MACBETH
Of course, it was fascinating to realise that Shakespeare was using the mythic story of Jesus the Christ as his subtext. But my question was why? Why go to such lengths to keep it secret? Some individual motifs have been recorded by scholars, but never have they been linked together in this greater context. My answer was that these biblical motifs are more than mere biblical events; they are the key tests, tasks and trials Jesus was destined to fulfil in order to fulfil the scripture and vanquish Satan. Why this was declared ‘heresy’ is the key to understanding the Grail.
When you’re cooking up a casserole, it often makes very little difference in what order you add many of the ingredients, seasoning, herbs and spices. Likewise with Shakespeare, when he tosses in his biblical motifs. Perhaps, as you’ll begin to see, simply in order to have the energy, the vibratory frequency these events produce in our consciousness, he will allude to, say, the virgin birth, several acts after the resurrection.
To give some sense of order and logic, I have roughly followed the biblical chronology of the events. This means that, unless it is absurd, I shall be hopping around the plays like a jackrabbit looking for ducks in the undergrowth.
Biblical Motifs in Macbeth
|BIBLICAL EVENT||SHAKESPEARE CODE|
|The fall of man: Eve is beguiled by the lies of the serpent||Lady Macbeth is beguiled by Macbeth’s letter|
|The tree of life is cut off||King Duncan is murdered. The fountain of your (Royal) blood is stopped|
|Adam & Eve banished from paradise||Macbeth gives away ‘the eternal jewel’|
|Cain and Abel born after the banishing||Macbeth’s reign of terror|
|The Virgin Birth||Macduff not of woman born|
|Herod’s slaughter of the innocents||Macbeth slaughters Macduff’s babies|
|Jesus casts out devils||Siward casts out ‘the evil’|
|God sacrifices his son||Siward’s son is killed by Macbeth|
|The cup of the last supper (a)||The poisoned chalice|
|The cup of the last supper (b)||The witches’ cauldron|
|My blood of the new testament||The ingredients in the cauldron|
|Jesus passes the sop to Judas||Banquo passes the diamond to Macbeth|
|Jesus crucified for blasphemy||Liver of blaspheming Jew|
|Pilate symbolically washes his hands||Lady Macbeth obsessively washes her hands|
|Jesus mocked with crown of thorns and wooden sceptre||Macbeth given fruitless crown and barren sceptre|
|Jesus bears his cross to High Calvary Hill||Burnham Wood comes to high Dunsinane Hill|
|The Epiphany, Baby Jesus Laid in a Manger and Shown to the Shepherds and Kings||A Baby in a Cauldron with a Crown Shown to Macbeth|
Biblical motifs in Macbeth
Consider this chapter as a thought experiment. Are the cryptic codes Shakespeare uses to camouflage his subtext the same devices used by the original scribes of the Bible to protect divine wisdom from being extirpated or abused? Above is a table summarising the most important biblical motifs in Macbeth. What follows is a brief discussion of each. Although the other layers of coding discussed fully in chapter 1, Invisible Ink, take our understanding of Shakespeare’s cryptic message to an even deeper level, it is the biblical motifs that are his keystones. To add in more confusion, Shakespeare’s subtext story does not follow biblical chronology; it seems to be almost randomly sprinkled into the cauldron of the play like herbs and spices. Yet it is the invisible gossamer thread connecting everything in the body of works together, like the fascia of the human body. The table is to help you see some of the key motifs in the familiar biblical chronology. The discussion is more about the story of how I managed to make sense of things.
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