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Explore the role of the supernatural in Shakespeare's play

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Q) Explore the role of the supernatural in Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" "Macbeth" was a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in 1606. Five years after the death of Elizabeth 1st and the accession of James 1st, also James Vi of Scotland. The play shows the defeat of a man who has many fine qualities, but commits murder as a result of his ambition to become a king influenced by a prophecy of the supernatural witches. The first scene shows the witches planning to meet Macbeth. The setting of this scene is very important; they meet on a moor in thunder and lightning. The surroundings portray an evil image. The moor is a very lonely, barren and bleak place, while thunder and lightning are associated with evil. The witches� language includes rhyming couplets that contradict each other and sound very powerful. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air" This quote tells us about the witches� hatred for all things good, and their love for things that are evil. Shakespeare adds rhyme and rhythm to the witches� language to emphasize their wickedness. The second part of this quote adds to their image of wickedness and would have created tension among the audience. ...read more.


Another example of this storm is from Act 1 Scene 3, where the witches' creation of a storm at sea shows the extent of their power. "Through his bark...tempest-tost", saying that she created a storm that killed the sailor. I think this suggests that the witches do not have the power over life and death but can exert an evil influence over other things, the weather in this case, to create a fear within the audience. The witches appearance and actions in the play are stereotypical of the public awareness of witches in the Elizabethan age. Not much was then known about witches and their existence was already beginning to be questioned. The witches in "Macbeth" would probably have been loosely based on the information known about witches at the time. The only information known about the witches was that they had supernatural powers that allowed then doing many mesmerizing stunts that were thought to be unexplainable by using witchcraft. It could be said that Macbeth controls his actions as shown when Macbeth says let fate take its course. This shows that Macbeth thought of the idea of murder before but the witches just sparked it off. ...read more.


The Jacobean audience would easily influenced by such events and would believe in their existence. In all his madness Macbeth doesn't realise his mistake that he has just made in front of people, but still continues to act in such way that the guests could become suspicious because he thinks it is some sort of trap. Also, he becomes so fanatical that he forgets his wife, Lady Macbeth, was suffering but Macbeth did not spend time with her. This cause them to move apart from each other even more then they already were. So near towards the end of the play all signs of love and affection were gone between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and never even spoke to each other. This was the cause of the supernatural witches and the prophesies that they made. In conclusion I believe that the supernatural was the central to action of the play and did exert a pressure on Macbeth to perform the murders and influenced the way he lived thereafter. However, the witches' powers could not extend as far as to force Macbeth to commit the murders. The witches did not force him to do the murder but just influenced him in doing so. Their role, as outlined earlier, was to incite him to doing so. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Hardik Patel (c) ...read more.

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