Chain of being
An ordered created world
At the time Shakespeare was writing, the universe was seen as a hierarchy, with God, the Creator, at the top. Everyone and everything else, having been made by God, was a ‘creature' of God:
An ordered political and physical world
Just as God is at the top of the hierarchy in the Universe, so are kings and other rulers within the state, and so is the head, the seat of reason, within the body. Shakespeare often compares the state, or body politic, to the human body; if the ruler is corrupt, this is a parallel to the head losing its reason and the body becoming diseased.
Reason versus passion
Shakespeare frequently stresses that it is reason which informs the soul of man and makes humans higher than animals:
- Because people have a soul, they can aspire to reach beyond their body and mortality
- If they debase their soul, and lose their reason — especially through drunkenness or by giving way to extreme passion — then they are no better than animals.
Madness versus reason
The loss of reason, from whatever cause, can lead to madness, which is described in images of disharmony in 'Hamlet':
‘noble and most sovereign reason / Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh'
Macrocosm and microcosm: It means literally a ‘little world' that corresponds exactly to the macrocosm, the greater world of the universe. Usually, man himself was seen as a microcosm: the small human body corresponded exactly to the ‘body of the State', which, in its turn, corresponded to the ‘body' of the universe. There was a sense of order as well as correspondence in this. If the outer universe were to be disordered, as shown in eclipses, falling stars, and so on, this would be a sign of some disorder happening or about to happen in the State. The biblical image of the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) is a similar sort of concept, though we see it as only an analogy. To the Elizabethans, it was literally true. Donne sees the little world of the lovers as a microcosm, but has no room (no pun intended) for the macrocosm.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says Jesus is accursed! and no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
A body of persons or things ranked in grades, orders, or classes. Used specifically of the 'Nine orders of angels'.
A non-physical being, or the non-physical but vital and intelligent part of a being, not limited by physical constraints.
Chief angel. In Christian tradition Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are considered to be archangels.
Supernatural beings closely linked with the work of God; his messengers, traditionally portrayed as having a winged human form.
The spirit which gives life to a human being; the part which lives on after death; a person's inner being (personality, intellect, emotions and will) which distinguishes them from animals.
The State, often envisaged using the image of a body with the ruler as the head.
The bigger world or cosmos. Anything from a planet to the whole universe.
Relating to, or contained in, the Bible. The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament.
1. Term for a worshipping community of Christians.
2. The building in which Christians traditionally meet for worship.
3. The worldwide community of Christian believers.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
A logical parallel to the thing being discussed, to help forward the argument. Often it is expressed as an extended simile. All analogies have their limits.