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Discuss the Presentation of Evil and the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Introduction

Discuss the Presentation of Evil and the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth Macbeth, known as "The Scottish Play" among actors, was written in 1605 by the famous author and playwright William Shakespeare. It was written for King James I, the first king of Scotland and England in hope of Shakespeare receiving the king's patronage. To do this Shakespeare included a variety of themes that were familiar and interesting to the king. These include themes of kingship, ambition, power and loyalty which, as king, James would have been very interested in. The play is also set in Scotland, the king's country of origin, and one of James' own ancestors, Banquo, was used to add a depth of history to Shakespeare's work. However the main theme included buy Shakespeare was that of evil and the supernatural, both of which James had interest in after having written the book Demonology. The witches that crop up several times in the play would be one of the main subjects of this play because witches were believed to be real at that time. In this essay I will look at how well Shakespeare presents this evil and supernatural by analysing dramatic devices and imagery that he uses, as well as how this would affect a 1605 audience. Shakespeare starts off the play exactly as he intends to go on. The very first scene sees the three witches plotting Macbeth's downfall. ...read more.

Middle

These refer, respectively, to Banquo's ghost having twenty killing cuts on his head, and his hair being covered in blood. These paint a very shocking picture and greatly increase the audience's feeling that Macbeth is evil to have done this to his friend. The fact that a ghost appears at all is very supernatural and perhaps that a ghost has appeared at all shows that it must have been a brutal, spiteful meaningless death for Banquo. However it may be that Shakespeare has added this ghost as a manifestation of Macbeth's guilt over the death of Banquo. This can be seen by the way that every time Macbeth challenges the ghost it disappears. For example: "Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!". Also it seems that Macbeth is the only person who can see the ghost an this either confirms his insanity, or it could cause the audience to think that it really is a ghost as it is invisible to all but it's victim. For example: "What sights my lord?" This again is highly supernatural as ghosts are supposed to be able to make themselves invisible. However it may also be that the fact that only Macbeth can see it is due to the fact that he has been driven insane by the amount of evil that he has done. This makes him seem even more dangerous as an insane evil villain is much worse than any old evil villain. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that Shakespeare presents the evil and supernatural in Macbeth very effectively because he would definitely shock a 1605 audience and I am sure that a modern audience would be affected similarly. Shakespeare achieves this by a combination of shocking imagery and images combined with an underlying theme of darkness and evil throughout the play. I have seen two version of Macbeth (a staged version directed by Trevor Nunn, and a film version directed by Roman Polanski), both very different in how they are performed, but both of them show how well Shakespeare has shown the evil and supernatural in the written form of Macbeth, and how this works as a good base for performances however it is interpreted. For example: Nun chose not to have Banquo's ghost appear physically. This means that Macbeth looks even more insane, as if there really is nothing there. It also allows you to look from the good lords' perspective, potentially seeing how evil he really is. On the other hand Polanski chose to have a very gory ghost present and, although he did not achieve the same things as Nun, he manages to shock the audience to a much greater extent with imagery and, combined with music, this was as effective as Nun's. In conclusion, I think that Shakespeare presents evil and the supernatural extremely well in Macbeth, while still leaving the play flexible for film and play directors to improve upon in their own way. ?? ?? ?? ?? Cameron Stocks 10z 07/07/2005 ...read more.

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