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How does Shakespeare exploit the contemporary interest in witchcraft and the supernatural in Macbeth and what does this theme

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare exploit the contemporary interest in witchcraft and the supernatural in Macbeth and what does this theme add to the play's historical story line? James the First succeeded the English throne in 1603; Macbeth was written between 1603-1606. Undoubtedly, the play was written to compliment James the First and to affirm his right to rule. It is important to realise that James had to deal with the issues of kingship and loyalty. He survived an assassination attempt; his father had been murdered and his, mother Mary Queen of Scots, had been executed as a traitor. Therefore, the play 'Macbeth' must of been of some consolation to James the First, as the role of monarch and their subjects must have been forever in his mind. To seek to over throw a king was seen to violate God. Perhaps, James the First's own doubts made him think the people who sought to overthrow his throne were evil. Indeed, James the first was fascinated by anything to do with the supernatural. He wrote a book on the subject which was called 'Demonology'. ...read more.

Middle

Even though the witches do not actually tell Macbeth he should murder Duncan their information tempts Macbeth to do so. The information that the witches give Macbeth is morally neutral. However, Macbeth interprets it otherwise. This means the witches end up symbolising evil, but Macbeth is still free to resist them. The symbolism of the play is connected with imagery. The blood in the play operates on at least three levels: it is what is literally shed when wars and murders occur, it is also a part of the imagery in the play that creates a sense of menace and evil and destruction, and it is a symbol for the evil that is associated with Macbeth. Furthermore, when Lady Macbeth reads the letter from Macbeth it contains the words "hail king" which gave Lady Macbeth both joy and unbelieving wonder. This is the start of corruption of Lady Macbeth who then pushes Macbeth to commit the murder of Duncan. Maybe, if she had not done this Macbeth might not have committed the murder. When Lady Macbeth calls the evil spirits to change her onto an evil person who can commit crimes of such horrible doings a raven croaks the death of Duncan which is very witch like. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, we realise through this contrast that Macbeth is incapable of real human feeling, he has become as much a beast as the three hags. There are many themes to Macbeth. These themes include goodness, evil, loyalty, ambition, love, deception, justice, corruption and the supernatural. The latter is the underlining and fundamental theme of the play and the driving force of Macbeth's life, which makes him a tragic hero. His moral weakness, which Shakespeare exploits in order to show how someone can fall and lose his life over there weakness resulting in intense sufferings. The idea of evil, moral weakness, resulting in divine retribution would have fascinated the Jacobean audiences. It would of also pleased James the First as the idea of the witches prophecies come full circle showing how they had a "double sense" p201 ties in to the idea of equivocation which had a contemporary relevance to the Gunpowder Plot. Ironically Macbeth betrayed Duncan so the witches betrayed Macbeth. Therefore, the supernatural theme of the play is extremely important to the plays contemporary style and certainly a major contributor to the play's enduring popularity. The two major reasons of the play's success are that in Shakespeare's time witchcraft was a substantial issue to both King James the First and his subjects. ...read more.

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