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Examine the role of the Supernatural in 'Macbeth'

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Introduction

Examine the role of the Supernatural in 'Macbeth' The play 'Macbeth' is essentially about a battle between 'good' and 'evil' where the witches represent the 'evil' or 'supernatural'. It is a fast moving historical tragedy with images of evil, disaster, and tragedy all produced as a consequence of ambition. At the time that Shakespeare wrote the play (between 1603 and 1606), there was much fascination and intrigue with the supernatural and this play would have interested the audience a lot at the time and the theme of the supernatural would have kept them captivated. The play was supposedly written with King James the first in mind as it was written at the time that he was at the throne and he had also written a book, 'Demonology', a similar subject. The witches are used as a representation of evil and the supernatural in the play and they create a mysterious atmosphere. They also create an element of fear to help excite the curiosity of the audience. They are used as a tool to set the atmosphere from the very first scene 'In thunder, lightning, or in rain?' (matches the desolate setting). They also speak in riddles and in an ambiguous tone, 'Fair is foul and foul is fair' to set the mood right throughout the play. The way the witches speak is like that of a chant as they seem to speak in unison. ...read more.

Middle

From this speech alone, we can see that Lady Macbeth is probably the most evil character in the play, and all this as a consequence of ambition and greed. Another important scene where the supernatural is obvious is when Macbeth hallucinates and imagines he sees a blood stained dagger. He even suspects the supernatural himself as he doubts his own senses 'is this a dagger that I see before me?' This is when he is debating wether to proceed with this murder that is not only tabooed but is also considered to be a crime against god. The combination of being pressurised in to commiting the murder by Lady Macbeth and him being so ambitious drives him almost insane and he hallucinates. A third major scene where the supernatural is evident is the appearance of Banquo's ghost at the banquet. In this scene, only Macbeth can see Banquo 'Here is a place reserved sir' and he is shocked to find that everyone else cannot see him. This scene shows that Macbeth feels guilty for what he has done and is battling with his own conscience to maintain his sanity. Another important scene where the supernatural features within it is the appearance of the apparitions. This is when Macbeth goes to visit the witches on his own to find out more about his destiny. ...read more.

Conclusion

The good in the play is represented by Duncan and his good kingship and also Malcolm. Banquo and Macduff also represent good in the play as they are loyal and trustworthy characters. The strange healing qualities of the English king also represent 'good' in the play as they are kind and selfless, these strange healing qualities also contest with Macbeth. Not a lot of characters can be described as good in the play because the play is essentially expressing evil and exaggerating it. In conclusion, one can say that good does triumph over evil as, although there are a lot of serious crimes committed in the play, Macduff eventually achieves his revenge over Macbeth and he is one of the rare 'good' characters in the play. He manages to kill Macbeth which represents evil being defeated by good. But ultimately, the play is at tragedy. There are examples of murder, witchcraft and many other serious crimes. The message of the play is that crime does not pay. It is a play of political and social realism: showing how an oppressive hierarchical society systematically can produce corrupt individuals. It is also a play of ideas and themes, for example, 'appearance and reality'. The ultimate theme is that appearances are not what they seem. At the beginning, Macbeth is portrayed as a brave, loyal, valiant soldier, but we discover that he is actually quite the opposite. He is corrupt, evil and takes advantage of his position as King. Ricky Winborn ...read more.

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