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Supernatural Elements In Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

2532 words - 10 pages

Consider the use that Shakespeare makes of supernatural elements in the play Macbeth.
In the Shakespearean era, there was an eruption of superstition and alleged witchcraft. The people of that time had strong hatred for the ‘devil worshiping’ witches and had various trials and tests to determine their fate. Shakespeare used this as inspiration for his play ‘Macbeth’
We see the character of Macbeth go through a personality transformation after a powerful predicament from Three witches. Starting as the highly thought of thane of Glamis, Macbeth is told he shall become thane of Cawdor and then king. The witches, quickly portrayed as evil, could have predicted these events, or simply planted the idea in Macbeth’s head, to exploit his fatal flaw.
As the play begins, we are introduced to the witches. They speak in rhyming couplets, just as all supernatural elements in Shakespeare’s work do. This could have been to let the audience, which would have been aware of this technique, that the witches are in fact, or simply appear magical. The stage directions indicate “thunder and lightning,” every time the witches appear, this same stage direction is given throughout the play to set the intended atmosphere, this is pathetic fallacy. The witches discuss the soon to come meeting with Macbeth, “apon the heath” “there to meet Macbeth”(Act1,scene1) Thus showing the witches knew about Macbeth before the meeting and the predictions were intentionally given.
As Macbeth returns from a victorious war, he is unaware of the forthcoming encounter with the witches. Before he arrives ‘apon the heath’ the witches show a first glimpse of evil, one tells a tale of a woman whose husband she will curse. “he shall live a man forbid.” Meaning he will lived jinxed forever.(scene one act one). Although not relevant to the main plot, Shakespeare has written this because it allows us, as a audience to develop a view on the witches and other supernatural beings as it shows them as dark and spiteful.
As Macbeth arrives, along with his close companion Banquo, they each react differently to the witches, Banquo describes them as man like, yet imaginary. “That look like th’inhabitants o’th earth” (act1 scene3). At the time of writing ‘Macbeth’ the witches would have been played by men, so the stage appearance would have been intentionally mal. This again is to show the witches in a bad light. Banquo is less affected by the predicaments than Macbeth. Macbeth becomes curious and dwells on the witches words. This is the effect on Macbeth that poses the question whether the witches are genuine and could actually predict the future, or were playing with Macbeths mind to watch and enjoy his downfall.
After this encounter we begin to see Macbeth going mad. He talks to himself, considering the murder of King Duncan. He has found out that he is to be the Thane of Cawdor, true to the witches words, but they could well have had knowledge beyond Macbeths, and already have known about his...

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