Blog Post 5: Annotation of Virtue, Natural Law, and Supernatural Solicitation: A Thomastic Reading of Macbeth
An article by Stacey Hibbs and Thomas Hibbs titled, Virtue, Natural Law, and Supernatural Solicitation: A Thomastic Reading of Macbeth, delves into a close reading of Macbeth through the lense of Thomas Aquinas to exhibit how the plot and character decisions closely reflect the philosophical and theological teachings of Aquinas. Specifically, the use of Aquinas’s theory of virtue, natural law, and the supernatural are used to explain why some characters reflect what Aquinas describes as truly good, all things that are actualized, or natural evil, “a lack of an appropriate perfection” (Hibbs’ 277) This article inquires into this topic through a close reading of Macbeth along with many excerpts from Aquinas’s work in Summa Contra Gentiles, along with many other accredited philosophers, theologians, and scholars. Stacey Hibbs and Thomas Hibbs use the work of outside sources to both accredit and challenge Aquinas’s theory as it relates to the work of Macbeth, and then they strategically pull pieces of dialogue or monologue from Macbeth that speak to the teachings of Aquinas through most all the characters. They do a thorough job of covering most of Macbeth, but my specific interest lies in their reading of the supernatural forces that take place in Macbeth and how Thomas Aquinas would explain the role of the supernatural in relation to the world of man, the supernatural consisting of witches, miraculous Kings, and the Grace of God, and how these forces can guide us to the natural good of humanity unless we lead ourselves away in temptation towards the inhuman. So their focus on the prophecy of the Weird Sisters and the “divine Grace” Malcolm speaks of are what connect my question to their work (Hibbs 291). The article is thorough and convincing in its claim that Macbeth reflects Aquinas’s theory. They leave little room for holes in their reading, and the holes they do leave they continue to question which suggests that their inquisition is never complete which is ultimately a sign of thoughtful inquiry. They were specific with the examples they used, and detailed in their analysis of each one, leaving little room to disagree with their reading of Macbeth as it relates to Aquinas. This article has contributed to the formation of my question of inquiry and how I might possibly view it through the teachings of Aquinas. I now know my question to be, how does the supernatural and divine found in Macbeth guide it’s characters to either a human or inhuman state, and with this article I can offer an argument for and against my question with Aquinas’s theory and regarding the role of the supernatural in human decisions, and whether that role exists to lead us astray or not.
Hibbs, Stacey and Thomas Hibbs. “Virtue, Natural Law, and Supernatural Solicitation: A Thomistic Reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” Religion & the Arts, vol. 5, no. 3, Sept. 2001, pp. 273-296. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.proxy.library.emory.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=6109694&site=ehost-live.