The play Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, presented many beliefs of the Elizabethan society. However, we as readers cannot be fully comprehend their way of life and their thinking if we do not know their beliefs and values. "In order to understand a play fully you have to be aware of the social context in which the play was written". This means that we can completely understand Macbeth only after we become familiar with their beliefs and social conditions. To do this we examine the beliefs, superstitions and way of life of people living in the Elizabethan society.
In the Elizabethan era, people believed that everybody and everything had their own place in the world. They believed that each person belonged in their place and should not try to become something higher than what they were. Each person and being belonged to a certain place on what we could call a ladder. This idea of the Elizabethan era is known as the "Great Chain of Being". God was the first chain, following were angels and kings. At the bottom of the chain were animals and inanimate objects. Humans had a distinctive position in this chain. They possessed both qualities of kings but also those of the lower orders. Macbeth, through his ambition violated the natural law by ascending in this ladder. He possessed "god-like faculty" but also greed and selfishness. .
Elizabethans believed that disorder was reflected in society and disruptions in this ladder resulted in chaos. This is shown when Macbeth tries to climb the "Great Chain of Being" to become King of Scotland. This chaos is shown through changes in weather patterns and nature. Throughout the play any association with witches brings about bad weather. As the three sisters stand around their cauldron casting spells the weather is unruly, the seas are rough and dangerous. The murder of Kind Duncan also brings strange, unnatural occurrences. Not only is the weather foul, but also owls scream and crickets cry.