Elliott, G. R. Dramatic Providence in Macbeth:
A Study of Shakespeare's Tragic Theme of Humanity and Grace with a Supplementary Essay on King Lear. Princeton: Princeton U P, 1960.

Thesis: In the "Introduction" to his book Elliott first asserts that Shakespeare's plays are best appreciated by readers (as opposed to theater-goers), because only those who read a Shakespearean play again and again can fully appreciate its deeper meaning. Elliott then goes on to say that Macbeth reveals the "very essence of [Shakespeare's] tragic vision," which is based on "the fact that the infernal evil working in man more instantly than than his natural goodness . . . can ruin his humanity--so glorious at its best--unless it is sustained by the supernal power of Grace" (11).

Elliott claims that his way of seeing the play is the way it would have been seen by Shakespeare's original audience, because they all held the Christian beliefs upon which he bases his interpretation. However, Elliott does not go into detail about those beliefs. His method is a preacher's method. He goes through the play in detail -- sometimes line-by-line -- describing, commenting, and driving home his point. Following is an example, in which vivid description is used in an allegorical way to show the struggle between disloyalty and grace which is raging within Macbeth's breast:

     The suspense heightens when Ross, entering with "haste" and "things strange" in his looks, cries, "God Save the King." Duncan, "great King," seems now to be in great peril. Ross has come from Fife
Where the Norwean Banners flowt the Skie,
And fanne our people cold.
But soon we learn that those banners, now brought to a standstill--some of them, apparently, captured by the Scots--are emblems of a hovering danger that has been overcome, though with immense difficulty. The difficulty and danger are rendered in rhetorical verses wherein Macbeth, whose name, however, is not mentioned by Ross, figures as the bridegroom of the goddess of war:
Norway himselfe, with terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyall Traytor,
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismall Conflict,
Till that Bellona's Bridegroome, lapt in proofe,
Confronted him with selfe-comparisons,
Point against Point, rebellious Arme 'gainst Arme,
Curbing his lavish spirit--and to conclude,
The Victorie fell on us.
That word "Victorie" elicits a breathing of relief from the group on the stage and from the audience in the theater, expressed in Duncan's quiet exclamation "Great happinesse!" But a deep feeling remains in us of "things strange" and threatening.
     For the nature of Macbeth's outward warfare, as the next scene will gradually made clear, results from and represents his "doubtful" (7), dreadful inner struggle. The "Strange Images of death" which he makes with his sword are nothing to him in comparison with the "horrid Image" in his mind of the potential murder of Duncan (I.iii.97, 135). This image he tries to banish (as later he will try to banish the memory of the murder) by wading (III.iv.137) in "bloody execution" (18). His motives are mixed and confused. He fights with extraordinary bravery and desperate "Venture" of his life (I.iii.91) for King Duncan and, at the same time, for the kingship which he secretly yearns to have for himself. He has lost the simple, whole-hearted loyalty exemplified by the wounded officer so devoted to the king, to Malcolm, and to Macbeth himself (3ff). The secret disloyalty of Cawdor, narrated in the climax of the scene, suggests the evil spirit that is trying to conquer Macbeth; but still the good in him may strenuously win the "Victory." Spiritual "death" hovers near the soul of "noble" Macbeth; but the gracious influence of his sovereign, whose every line in this scene breathes simple nobility, can serve to save him . . . .  (38-40)

Bottom Line: A very long sermon.