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How does Shakespeare use the Supernatural in 'Macbeth'?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare use the Supernatural in 'Macbeth'? Throughout 'Macbeth', Shakespeare refers to the supernatural to create an atmosphere of fear. By doing so, the audience's imagination is preyed upon and this gives greater depth to the play. The supernatural takes many forms in the play and guides the audience through various different emotions. With constant references to the supernatural, this enhances the play's sense of foreboding. Shakespeare instantly creates a mood of terror and unearthly evil in the first stage direction, 'Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches'. By starting the play with the witches and thunder and lightning, Shakespeare is telling you what the whole play is going to be about. It is going to be about the struggle between the forces of good and evil. It clear that the witches are the centre of the forces of evil, by making an appointment with Macbeth to lure him to destruction. By chanting 'Fair is fowl, and fowl is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air', this tells the audience that it is going to be difficult to determine between good and evil. The way things appear may not be all that they seem. ...read more.

Middle

Banquo's ghost is one of the main forms of the supernatural in Macbeth. Macbeth fears him because Banquo has come to accuse him of his murder. Only Macbeth and the audience can see Banquo's ghost, the audience doesn't know whether it is a vision of guilt from Macbeth's own mind, a sign of evil nature or a sign sent from the witches. Banquo's ghost sits in Macbeth's seat, this is telling Macbeth that he is not the rightful king and does not deserve a place at the table. This totally throws Macbeth who points at the ghost and says he was not the one who stabbed him. 'Thou canst snot say I did it; never shake Thy gory locks at me.' p125 line 50 Lady Macbeth manages to protect her husband by telling the guests that he is not well and often has these 'funny turns'. The apparitions are yet another form of the supernatural in Macbeth. Here the witches manipulate Macbeth with another set of accurate but damning prophecies, the first of which leads to the callous murder of the Macduff family, the other to unfounded confidence. The first apparition is an armed head, it tells Macbeth's thoughts, and says beware of Macduff. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also adds to the atmosphere of the play, making it seems more dark and sinister. Disturbances in the skies were thought to indicate rebellion in kingdoms, trouble in men's minds, and the forces of good loosing to evil. Also what is another crucial point is how the people in the early 17th century believed in the supernatural. At the time to present Macbeth in the grip of devilish powers would not have been thought to be unrealistic. They believed in witchcraft and all forms of supernatural and were all extremely superstitious. Without the supernatural within 'Macbeth', this play would not be the great tragedy that it is. Macbeth would still be the character he was at the start of the play, a brave soldier, loyal. Without the witches and their prophecies Macbeth's hunger for ambition would never have materialised and would never have committed any murders. The audience would never have been able to explore Macbeth's mind and would not have gone through the different emotions that the play presents them, fear, terror, pity these are only a few of them. Nothing would have been affected, because it is all provoked by the supernatural, and without it, the play would not be interesting in the slightest. Macbeth's transformation of character is psychologically convincing. The supernatural is imposed on him from the outside but change him inwardly. Emily Shallcross ...read more.

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