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Shakespeare used the supernatural in Macbeth to entertain and terrify his audience

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Shakespeare used the supernatural in Macbeth to entertain and terrify his audience. Is a modern audience entertained in the same way by the supernatural? In Macbeth the supernatural is used to entertain and terrify the audience. Supernatural things are those that do not belong in the natural world. In Elizabethan times, people were so terrified of the supernatural because they believed that there was a natural order which effectively governed the universe, and when this order was misaligned things would start to go very wrong. For instance, were a Thane to kill a king and then become king, he would have changed the natural order and thus strange things would happen, and in Macbeth they did - horses started eating each other and weather became very irregular. Today we are not terrified in the same way by the supernatural. People today are not scared of witches, evil spirits and hell, or at least not as much as the Elizabethans. However, we do share a fear of murder, hallucinations, madness and manipulation; which all play a large part in the telling of Macbeth. The witches in Macbeth are exactly what the Elizabethans would have expected them to be, scary and unnatural. Set against a dramatic backdrop of "Thunder and lightning" these witches can tell the future ("there to meet with Macbeth") ...read more.


Although spirits, witches and hell no longer scare us, the "human" element of the supernatural is still as frightening today as it was in Elizabethan times, murder especially is frequent in Macbeth and is perhaps so frightening because it took so long for justice to prevail. Justice is fairly swift today in comparison to Elizabethan times, so it is shocking to a modern audience that Macbeth killed so many innocents with little lawful consequence. The first to be murdered in Macbeth is the elderly and trusting King Duncan, Macbeth, or rather Lady Macbeth had planned that the guards should be blamed for the murder, but when Macbeth went to slay Duncan, the guards - despite being drunk, saw him, and so Macbeth killed both the guards - the witnesses, saying in Act 2 Scene 3 "that I did kill them" and "who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man! The expedition of my violent love outran the pauser reason." Here Macbeth is saying that his love for the King and outrage at what had happened made him act hastily without thinking, when of course he killed the guards purely to save his skin. However, the Macbeths manage to pull off the murder, despite their abnormal reactions to the news of Duncan's death. ...read more.


- had I so sworn as you have done to this." By using these taunts, Lady Macbeth wanted Macbeth to feel guilty about being such a coward. She used love as a bargaining tool, as a kind of test - if you really loved me and were a true man you would kill Duncan. Hallucinations and madness are the final elements of the supernatural in Macbeth. Hallucinations; often associated with madness, are a window to the subconscious level of our minds. When Shakespeare wrote Macbeth very little was known about hallucinations and madness, Lady Macbeth advised Macbeth to bottle his feelings up and she did the same, and it drove them both mad. (Act 3 Scene 2) "How now my lord? Why do you keep alone, of sorriest fancies your companions making using those thoughts which should indeed have died with them they think on? Things without remedy should be without regard. What's done is done." In conclusion, modern and Elizabethan audiences are not frightened or entertained in the same way by the supernatural. Elizabethans were genuinely frightened by witches and spirits and today we are not, though Elizabethans and modern audiences are entertained by witches and spirits. However, madness, hallucinations, manipulation and murder are still as frightening today as they ever were, and are not in any way entertaining because they could happen to us. The Macbeths were normal people with ambition and because of one stupid "prophecy" their lives were ruined by the witches. ...read more.

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