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The supernatural in Macbeth

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Introduction

'The supernatural is always a vehicle for evil' Using language and literary techniques, discuss to what extent you agree with this statement in Macbeth with reference to The Weir. Shakespeare's play Macbeth, written in the Jacobean era, and Conor McPherson's play The Weir, set in rural Ireland, both include supernatural elements which help the play's progression. However, both plays are about entirely different things; Macbeth is a play in which the main character plots to kill the King, whereas The Weir focuses a lot more on companionship and the importance of a community as well as the effects of loneliness. In Act 1 Scene 1 of Macbeth, the setting, 'A desolate place' helps to create an ambiguous and misty atmosphere right from the beginning whilst the weather choice of 'Thunder and lightning' forewarns the audience of negative events and adds to the sense of equivocation, which is achieved through paradox like 'when the battle's lost, and won'. James I himself believed in witches and so did most of society in general therefore by including the supernatural, Shakespeare was clearly making the play relevant to his audience, as they would have believed in such matters. ...read more.

Middle

McPherson use of humour shows irreverence for characters, usually Finbar, such as the interrogative 'you were making it all up, weren't you?'. This helps to create a chain of adjacency pairs, allowing the characters to interact, which is central to the play's theme of companionship and to an extent presents the supernatural as something that shouldn't be taken too seriously. Humour is also used in Macbeth, by the Porter (2.3), which presents itself in a satirical way. Such humour would not be as familiar to a modern day audience as it was to the Jacobean audience, therefore many modern directors choose not to include it. Macbeth's 'fatal vision' in Act 2 Scene 1 symbolises the bloody course upon which he is about to embark and is part of his fatal flaw which leads to his downfall, as well as presenting the theme of appearance versus reality again. His interrogative, questioning whether it is a 'dagger of the mind' caused by his 'heat-oppressed brain' highlights his stress and tension, and the use of the premodifying adjective 'heat-oppressed' signifies just how extreme this stress that he is feeling is, as committing regicide is a sin that can't be forgiven. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike Macbeth, McPherson shows normal human-beings meddling with the supernatural rather than vice versa. Finbar's self mockery, like the 'low laugh' helps the audience watching to see the tale as genuine by showing his stifled fear. To balance the sinister atmosphere created by his story about 'a woman' at the bottom of 'the stairs', humour is used such as 'Luigi board!' followed by taboo lexis, 'Ah fuck off', to highlight familiarity between the characters and articulate a lack of refinement as well as a distinct honesty in them. Equivocation in Act 4 Scene 1 such as 'for none of woman born' leads Macbeth to believe he can't be killed, and presents the witches as yet again interfering. The stage directions, which would be important considering it is a play, show the witches 'dance, and vanish' highlighting some level of power, but doesn't portray them as evil. The apparition of 'an armed head' could symbolize how Macbeth himself will be killed at the end of the play, however, the witches present fate to him in an equivocal and esoteric way. Many references to time are made, such as 'Time, thou anticipat'st my...' where Macbeth uses the vocative 'Time' to personify it and emphasise how he is in battle with it. ...read more.

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