• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10

How does Shakespeare Present the Supernatural in Macbeth?

Extracts from this document...


Caroline Piggott. How does Shakespeare Present the April 2001 Supernatural in Macbeth? Shakespeare presents Supernatural elements in "Macbeth" which are supernatural beings, such as the witches, supernatural images for example the dagger, thunder and lightning, darkness, an eclipse, horses going wild and savage, food chain turning upside down, supernatural beings, apparitions for example the ghost of Banquo or the show of eight Kings and supernatural images ,ghost of Banquo, blood on Lady Macbeth's hands. Shakespeare uses the Supernatural to improve the audiences understanding of Macbeth. Darkness represents evil, the dagger represents blood and murder, the owl eating the falcon represents disorder in society and Duncan's horses going mad and eating each other represents upset in nature. These Supernatural elements represent themes in the play of death, disorder, sickness, sin, ambition and greediness. The Supernatural makes the play more varied and interesting, catching and effective and lasting in the audiences mind. The play is more visually interesting with the elements of the Supernatural, particularly the witches scene is very dramatic even without modern technology. What the eye cannot see on the stage, the ear can hear and can describe the scene in the audiences mind. In the Polanski film, the moderness of it is more exciting as technology can create the Supernatural images like the apparitions, the dagger and many other images, but in the royal Shakespeare company play a lot of the Supernatural parts in Macbeth have to be created by the audiences imagination. Although this is effective the modern Polanski film has a more exciting film and the Supernatural parts in it have been made stronger. The advantages of the play, is when you are sitting in the audience, you become a part of it like the Lords and Thanes in the Banqueting hall; p.81 Act 3 Scene 4. You cannot see what Macbeth is looking at, Banquo's ghost, but a stool. So the effect of madness and the touch of the devil may be greater in some parts of the play. ...read more.


This is shown by him saying "Witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's off'rings, and withered murder, Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf." This means that he is associating the idea of murder as an offering to Hecate the goddess of witchcraft and hearing the alarmed howl of the wolf guarding her. He wants to be quiet and secret and prays to the earth that he is not heard and that nothing gives him away. This shows when he says" Thou sure and firm-set earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear thy very stones prate of my whereabout," When he hears a bell, he feels it is a funeral bell and is tolling for Duncan, "Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell." "This rhyming language sounds like a witches chant and creates a spooky atmosphere. The entire speech shows Macbeth's' increasing insanity, seeing visions and talking of witchcraft and associating the sound of the bell with a funeral. In Act 2 Scene 2, after the murder, Macbeth is obsessed by his inability to say "Amen", and by a voice crying that he has murdered sleep and will never sleep again. Lady Macbeth dismisses his hallucinations and orders him to return the daggers. He refuses. " But wherefore could not I pronounce "Amen"? I had most need of blessing and "Amen" stuck in my throat." This means that Macbeth cannot look to God for help anymore because of all his sin inside of him and devil like soul. The atmosphere conveyed to the audience is tense, dramatic and urgent. This is shown in the language used, as there are many short sentences and broken lines. "There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried, "Murder!", that they did wake each other; I stood, and heard them, but they did say their prayers and addressed them again to sleep." ...read more.


I think that Shakespeare wants the audience to understand that greed and hunger for power always in the end destroy you and you cannot get away with evil and sin and not pay a price. My personal response is that the Supernatural elements of the play are very effective and help the play a lot to portray evil, sin and wrongdoing. The supernatural helps my understanding of the play as each time a supernatural element comes into the play it shows and symbolises how Macbeth and all around him and involved with him are slowly going being corrupted and going to be destroyed by their guilt and sin. The supernatural is very useful in this way and is a good, exciting part of the play. In the time of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans, I think that the Elizabethan audience would have found Macbeth more tragic, sinful and evil than we do today as our beliefs are different now. I think that the Elizabethan audience had fixed views on everything and they were not used to change and seemed to dislike anything too new or different. A lot of images would not be so evil, dark and sinister now as they were then, as in the present we are open to a lot of new technology and changes. I do not know whether supernatural elements exist or not, but believe that evil ambitions can corrupt people and make them do evil things. I have not had any supernatural experiences. Macbeth himself was responsible for his own moral downfall and death and even though Lady Macbeth egged him on, it was his choice in the end. Macbeth should have been stronger and should not have gone to the witches and allowed himself to be tempted by dreams of ambition. I have learned from this play that you should never let greed and ambition rule your life and that evil and sin can result in madness. Shakespeare's language shows that the Elizabethans liked highly dramatic and over the top plays with horror and murder involved. 1 Caroline Piggott. Macbeth ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    The Supernatural in "Macbeth"

    4 star(s)

    It states "insane root" this suggests that Macbeth and Banquo clamed to have eaten something wrong causing hallucination would be the natural reaction of someone who had seen the supernatural. Ross and Angus later reveal the second prophesy, "Call thee Thane of Cawdor".

  2. 'What is the role of the supernatural in the play Macbeth?'

    With all the confusion and pressure that is put onto Macbeth, he is unsure about the decision he shall make. When Macbeth sees the air-drawn dagger, this leads him to kill his victim. When the dagger appears to him, Macbeth finally becomes a victim to the delusions of his fevered brain.

  1. What role does the supernatural play in 'Macbeth'?

    the witches may have just heard gossip, and passed it on to Macbeth, for their own earthly jokes. However, they may in fact be sinister witches who are merely toying with Macbeth for their own sport.

  2. Compare and contrast Banquo and Macbeth looking particularly at the first meeting with the ...

    His words echo those spoken earlier by the witches. Perhaps this is because the witches knew he would say these words and were mocking him. Perhaps the witches have some control over him. Or maybe Shakespeare is suggesting that Macbeth and the witches are similar in character as well as in the way they talk.

  1. How does Shakespeare present the nature of evil in Macbeth?

    The only way to gain power of the throne was for Macbeth to work his way to the throne, or to murder King Duncan. Murdering the king was an easier plan since the king also had two sons so he could not work his way up to the throne.

  2. Discuss the importance of the witches and Supernatural to 'Macbeth'

    This opening scene is related to act I, 3 where they finally meet Macbeth in the evil place they say at the start. This scene's purpose is to tell the audience Macbeth's destiny and his flaw in his character and his weakness of loyalty.

  1. To what extent is Macbeth wholly responsible for his ruin, which destroys not only ...

    Macbeth demonstrates his merciless attitudes in battle against Macdonwald. From the very start of the play, we recognise his determination and ambitious strive. Shakespeare portrays him as a man of superstition and great determination. The first time we come into contact with him is with the witches, this depicts his character as once with interaction with supernatural forces.

  2. Explore the way the theme of the supernatural is presented in Macbeth and The ...

    The ?fair is foul? riddle may be referring to Lady Macbeth who appears genteel but is actually conniving and manipulative. There are echoes of Lady Macbeth?s own words which she speaks in Act 3 when she says ?Look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under it.? It is this deceit that leads to Duncan?s death.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work