A Baby in a Cauldron with a Crown Shown to Macbeth
Due to the dire penalty of not taking biblical events literally, the meaning behind the intricate labyrinths of symbolism has been lost in a quagmire of superstition — up until Shakespeare. He has taken a wrecking ball to the laws of heresy and waited four hundred years for the superstitions to begin to crumble and fall.
In Twelfth Night, which represents the Epiphany, Shakespeare cues us in with ‘If music be the food of love...’. The epiphany is when the baby Jesus is laid in a manger and shown to the shepherds and the three kings. Dwelling on this, one can see how the manger (a container for food) is literally said to hold the body and blood of Christ. This foreshadows the Eucharist, where the chalice (another container for food) is symbolically said to hold the body and blood of Christ. Here in Macbeth, the cauldron (another container for food) reveals apparitions of a bloody child and a baby wearing a king’s crown. It is these baby kings who deliver the double-double entendre to Macbeth that brings about his downfall.
What is this, that rises like the issue of a King,
And wears upon his baby brow, the round
And top of sovereignty?
Macbeth, Act IV Scene I
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