Exile and Holy Healing in Macbeth and “Crescentia” (ATU 712)

Charlotte Artese (Agnes Scott College)

In both the traditional narrative “Crescentia” and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, profound evil leads a victim to take refuge in a realm of holy healing and justice. Both Crescentia and Malcolm, the son of King Duncan, are framed with the same stratagem for ghastly murders. Crescentia eventually reaches a land where she is able to heal by faith. This may well have suggested the episode in Malcolm’s exile in England, in which Edward the Confessor heals through prayer and laying on of hands. The Macbeths’ castle, where the regicide takes place, is insistently figured as Hell. In these narrative structures, the heavenly zones are peripheral, places of exile for those cast out of their erstwhile homes.

Part of 04-14 Peripheral Plagues: Localizing Illness in Medieval and Early Modern Texts, Friday, October 14, 8:30 am–10:00 am