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Discuss the Role of the Witches and Other Supernatural Elements

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Introduction

'Macbeth' Coursework Essay Discuss the Role of the Witches and Other Supernatural Elements In Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' The play 'Macbeth' is set in Scotland, in the 11th century but written in 1600. It was written for Shakespeare's new patron, James I, following the death of Queen Elizabeth. James was very interested in witchcraft and Scotland, hence the theme of the play. Many things influenced Macbeth to do what he did. First are the witches, who are introduced in the beginning of the play. The witches can foretell the future. They can also add temptation. They speak of meeting Macbeth when he returns from the battle. When they do meet up the witches tell Macbeth that he is to become 'Thane of Cawdor', 'Thane of Glams' and king. These prophecies introduce Macbeth to ideas of greatness. The witches, however, didn't force him to take action on the predictions but they do influence him. The first of the predictions came true very soon after meeting the witches, which pushed him further. Another influence is Macbeth's wife. She first finds out about Macbeth's accomplishments in a letter. Lady Macbeth makes arrangements and plots the death of Duncan (the king). When Macbeth arrives, she tells him what she has plotted. Lady Macbeth is shown to be ambitious woman. She can manipulate Macbeth easily, "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear" She is the biggest influence upon Macbeth. The witches introduce an idea of what might happen and Lady Macbeth makes Macbeth believe that it will happen and helps him to force it to happen. She thinks that Macbeth is too kind to do such a deed. "It is too full o' the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way" She also believes that he will not be willing to kill Duncan to get the easy way to the throne. So she threatens his man hood and asks if he is frightened. ...read more.

Middle

Tension is also shown by the short answers that Macbeth was giving Banquo. When the servant, Banquo and Fleance exit, Macbeth sees a dagger. It is a hallucination of a dagger because Macbeth cannot actually grab it. He attempts many times to grasp it but fails to do so every time. "Is this a dagger I see before me" "I have thee not, and yet I see thee still" By viewing this as an audience it invites the conclusion of madness because the audience wouldn't actually be able to see a dagger. The dagger may represent the sense of evil over coming Macbeth, as his ambitions grow bigger. I think that Shakespeare is trying to show that from madness evil can happen. The dagger may have been put there by the witches to help Macbeth kill Duncan. This could have happened but I don't think it is so, because the witches gave a prediction and I don't see how they would influence his actions from then. Macbeth's path towards evil started when Lady Macbeth suggested the plan of killing Duncan. Macbeth's last words in this scene are, "I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven, or to hell" Having said this it seems that he enjoyed killing Duncan. He is saying what's done is done and that all that's left for Duncan is heaven or hell. Macbeth and Lennox are discussing the terrible weather from the previous night. The way Lennox describes the weather seems to reflect the murder of the king. "The night has been unruley...Lamemtings heard i' the air; strange screams of death...Of dire combustion and confus'd events" The bad weather could have been conjured by the witches. Bad weather and the supernatural have always been seen to have some sort of a link, as with the animal's strange behavior. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth was a victim of his own ambition. The witched gave Macbeth an ambition to work on, Lady Macbeth pushed him to act upon it and Macbeth carried it on from then. I think Macbeth must have had some evil in him to do such things in the first place. The evil probably grew with each person he killed/ordered to be killed. Even ordering a murder is evil because you are still murdering someone. Macbeth only killed to get people out of the way and to keep himself on the throne. The combination of the three vital characters (witched, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth) led the play to contain lots of bloodshed. If I were to blame somebody for the bloodshed I would blame Lady Macbeth. The witches just told Macbeth his prediction and Lady Macbeth acted on them, whereas Macbeth was prepared to wait for his time to sit in the throne. This leads me to a thought. Was it really Macbeth's fate to kill the king? If he hadn't killed the king would his opportunity to be king still come along? My first thought on this play was that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were trying to take control of their fate and that the witches planted the idea in their heads. The witches said Macbeth would be king and with this Lady Macbeth decided to plot the death of the king, but was this supposed to happen? Was this Macbeth's fate or did he take the wrong path by killing the king? I don't think an audience of Shakespeare's time would enjoy it to the same amount of a modern audience. Although the play is still enjoyed today, an audience in Shakespeare's time would enjoy it more because of the witches and the impact of the play. The play was written for Shakespeare's time to enjoy. I believe it is still a successful play today but because we know the existence of the witches is just a myth it would not effect us as much to see witches and supernatural goings on, on stage. 1 1 ...read more.

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