Thunder, lightning and darkness all play a vital role in the development of the plot in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Shakespeare's thorough use of imagery and symbolic imagery help create a feel for the play. Thunder and lightning cause a sense of fear that adds to the mood. While darkness gives a sense of mystery and suspicion, the use of nature in this play usually foreshadows or symbolizes something else that will occur or is occurring. Macbeth's reoccurring theme of moral order being reversed is thoroughly supported by the effects of nature. .
"Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches"(I, I), "Thunder. Enter the three Witches"(I, III), "Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting Hecate" (III, V), "In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. Enter the three witches"(IV, I) All of these indicate that thunder plays an important role in the appearance of the witches. The thunder symbolizes that something affecting the whole plot will soon be revealed. Every time the witches appear a little more of the plot is revealed and the reader gets a clearer picture of what will happen in the future. The thunder is a guide as it forecasts the conflict in the plot.
Thunder which is often mentioned and usually symbolizes an important event. Thunder can also be used to describe a person or an event. "In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"(I, I, 2) asks one of the witches at the start of the play. As the witches speak, a huge storm is ravaging the country but at the same time a war is ongoing. The storm represents the fighting and it is used appropriately to give a sense of sadness since the weather is so horrible. "Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break"(I, II, 26) says a Sergeant speaking about Macbeth. This quote is also symbolic as he depicts Macbeth as a storm. This can be interpreted as Macbeth being so mighty that he has the power to create havoc like a storm. Macbeth screams "That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, And sleep in spite of thunder.