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Ideologies common in Shakespeare’s England.

The great chain of being • This theory. based on the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s concept of the universe.html Macbeth William Shakespeare) .vic.  • (http://resources. was of great importance to Shakespeare’s contemporaries and was used by him in developing events in his plays.  The Earth was the centre of the universe and the stars moved around it in fixed routes. everything in the world had its position fixed by God.  In Heaven God ruled over the archangels and angels.  According to this orical/

churchmen.  The animals had their own degrees too. gold was the most superior.On earth there was order everywhere.  Society reflected this order with its fixed classes from the highest to the lowest – kings. it was the rose. nobles. the most superior was the oak. . Among the minerals.  Among the trees. among flowers. merchants.  Plant life and minerals also reflected this order. the lion being the “king”. and peasants.

The Elizabethans called this hierarchical structure The Great Chain of Being. Any attempt to break the chain of being would upset the established order and bring about universal disorder. Why do you think humankind is placed between the angels and the animals? .

Michael Cassio was a man versed in "bookish theoric ( n. but by your leave.. as Iago himself said early in the play. and there be souls must/ not be sav'd (2.1..3. he engages in an unexpected theological discussion with Iago..• . They both express their desire to be saved. • (http://www. Cassio cuts him short: "Ay. it suggests an acquaintance with broader intellectual culture.109110). even though "there be souls must be sav'd. not before me.drbilllong.24).html) . Indeed. even when he is drunk shows that the philosophy is so wedded to his soul that it is even deeper than his conscious control." We should not read that to refer only to his skill at "number crunching" (the theme of Iago's speech in 1..1).3.103-104)." That Cassio utters this line. the/ lieutenant is to be sav'd before the ancient (2. which is perfectly reflective of the ordered hierarchy of the philosophy of the Great Chain of Being." After Iago speaks his hope of salvation.

Other beliefs of the time put individuals at the mercy of elements beyond their control. These include: .

Celestial movements and alignments shaped events on earth.Signs of the zodiac • The type of person you were was determined by the star you were born under. .

The four elements and the four humours. A balance of the four made for "good humour". water. air and earth. phlegm. people were thought to be made of the four humours: blood. and imbalance for an "ill-humour". If one was more dominant it would determine the mood of the person. . In a similar way. • Everything on earth was thought to be made of a combination of the four elements of fire. melancholy and choler.

Eleme nt Humour Earth Melancholy (yellow bile) Common Quality Cold and dry Water Phlegm Cold and moist Air Blood Hot and moist Fire Choler (black bile) Hot and dry .


and vice versa. you can expect to descend. If you are at the high point. .The wheel of fortune Fate is like a wheel.

Fate: • life is predestined • controlled by impersonal forces (gods. stars.The combination of these ideas (along with the life expectancy and comparatively less just society) gave rise to fate. elements) • has effect on human lives • what happens is not your fault .