How might these strange happenings relate to the characters or actions in the play-think of them as symbols.

Act 2

Scene 4


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In scene 4, Ross reports that "by the clock ‘tis day, / And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp" (II iv 6-7). This image of the darkness strangling the light of day is a meteorological manifestation of the murder of Duncan; the light of nature is suffocated just as Duncan's life is extinguished. Victorian writer John Ruskin called such mirroring of a character's psychological state in inanimate natural objects "pathetic fallacy." In animate natural objects too, a similar mirroring occurs. The old man describes Duncan's noble horses eating each other and an owl eating a falcon--events that echo the slaughter of Duncan by Macbeth. Thus the unnatural death of Duncan plunges the country into both physical and spiritual turmoil.