Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth
In Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare uses an underlying motif of the supernatural to control the characters and add a new dimension to the play.
Shakespeare uses a large motif of light vs. darkness throughout the play to present moral choices and religious ideas. When the play opens, there is thunder rolling around and the witches on stage. The thunder is symbolic of darkness and gives the audience the first impression that the play will not be ordinary. The witches who only appear in darkness, elements of the supernatural, are one of Shakespeare's classic ways of catching the audience's attention and of also setting the mood for the play.
Another motif present in Macbeth is appearance vs. reality. In this motif, Shakespeare uses concepts that either hint at the character's delusion or that a supernatural force has taken over and controls what is real and what is not. An example of this is seen when Macbeth sees the dagger before him. The dagger could just be a hallucination or it could be a vision sent from the witches because Shakespeare later reveals that they do have the power to conjure spirits when Macbeth returns to see them. If the dagger is a hallucination, then Macbeth has some subconscious urge to take Duncan's life. If the dagger is from the witches, then the witches want to entice Macbeth with a little something to make him contemplate beforehand what he may be doing. The witches know that Macbeth will not talk himself out of killing Duncan until after the fact.
A recurring theme in Macbeth is that of sleeplessness. The first time that sleeplessness is introduced by the witches is when the first witch is discussing an encounter with a sailor amongst the coven. She states that because the sailor's wife would not give her a chestnut, she made it...