Supernatural Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth
In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, imagery plays a key role in the audience's understanding of the theme of the play. One type of imagery that is prevalent in the story is supernatural or unnatural imagery. With the sense of the supernatural and interference of the spirits, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are led to dangerous, tempting things. Macbeth's character changes dramatically from the brave soldier to the evil king. Lady Macbeth's character also changes from the loving wife and strong woman to the crazy, paranoid woman. Shakespeare uses witches, apparitions, ghosts, and other unnatural events to show the evil effects and consequences that interference by these forces is anything but good.
Macbeth experiences his first strange encounter of the supernatural when he meets the three witches in Act 1, Scene 1. The witches greet Macbeth by saying "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!/ All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor/ All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!" (1.1). The witches insinuate the idea of power, and by doing that, push Macbeth to the next level of greed and evil that did not exist prior to the supernatural encounter.
The supernatural element also takes place when Lady Macbeth calls upon spirits to give her power to plot the murder of Duncan without any remorse or conscience. She says, "Come, you spirits/ that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,/ and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/ of direst cruelty!" (1.5). Her soliloquy shows that she relied on the supernatural by asking for something unnatural to get rid of her natural feelings of compassion and make her cruel.
The murder of King Duncan initiates another of Macbeth's encounters with the supernatural when he sees an apparition. On the night Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plan to kill Duncan, nature is acting very strangely. It is noticed that "tis unnatural" (2.4) and that "the moon is down," and "There's husbandry in heaven,/ their candles are all out" (2.1). As Macbeth awaits the signal to make his way to Duncan's chamber, he sees a floating dagger and proclaims, "Come, let me clutch thee./ I have thee not, and yet I see thee still./ Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/ To feeling as to sight? or art thou but/ A dagger of the mind, a false creation,/ Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?" (2.1). This confuses and...