• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Role of the Supernatural in Macbeth

Extracts from this document...


The Role of the Supernatural in Macbeth During Shakespeare's time many people were superstitious and believed in witches, ghosts and other supernatural beings because they could not explain a lot of things that went on around them. This is greatly reflected in Shakespeare's play "Macbeth". By the late 1550's, Shakespeare had established himself as a playwright. Shakespeare and six others called themselves the "Kings Men" they called themselves this with the permission of King James 1. The supernatural plays a very big part throughout the play. This can be first seen at the very beginning in Act one Scene one with the three weird sisters meeting on the heath. In the back round there is thunder and lightning. This symbolises that bad things that are to come. This is also where one of the most important lines in the play is said "When the hurlyburlys done. When the battles lost and won" This says that every battle is lost by one side and won by the other. All winners may be victorious on the battlefield, but not off of it. This is the first observation made by the witches. ...read more.


This is shown particularly well by the sisters and the prediction that they make. The sisters not only add to the supernatural, they also act as narrators and give the audience insight in to what will happen in the future of the play. There are many scenes throughout the play, which have a good effect in the supernatural aspect. The image of the bloody knife before Macbeth echoes the murder of King Duncan that immediately follows. Throughout the play blood is a recurring image "Is this a dagger which I see before me the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee" These visions seem to greatly trouble Macbeth. It is as though if he is to follow the dagger. There will be no turning back from the crime that he is about to commit, to complete his main ambition in life. Lady Macbeth frets in her sleep about not being able to wash the blood off of her hands because she feels so guilty about the murder. Once the murder has been committed, Banquo has suspicions about Macbeth killing King Duncan in order to obtain the throne. ...read more.


The sisters predict many things, which come true. However, Macbeth often misinterprets their prophecies and this is put. Dramatic irony is used often during the play. An example of dramatic irony is when Macbeth plans Duncan's murder while showing such loyalty to the king. This is dramatic irony since while Duncan does not know of Macbeth's plan. He has trust in him. In conclusion it can be seen that without the key role of the supernatural. Macbeth would not have been led to do many of the things he did. His character in general would be completely different. The use of supernatural in Macbeth, emphasises the temptations of ambition. Without the influences of the witches Macbeth could not have reached his downfall trying to achieve his ambitions. The supernatural caused Macbeth to become a darker and more evil person with each supernatural encounter. Macbeth is a great tragedy that binds together light and darkness, good and evil, jealousy, guilt, fate and fear. These themes recur throughout the play and without them "Macbeth" would have been completely different. The use of the witches, visions, sleep and ghosts are all key elements of the supernatural themes in the play and the use of each dramatically influences the drama. ...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. Shakespeare's use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

    he is a Thane or not (unless he was dressed formally of course.) The first line is correct, so Macbeth probably thinks that whatever they say next is completely believable. The witches then chant the second line, which tells him that he is Thane of Cawdor.

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

    When the witches give their predictions of glory, they do not go into detail, this leaves both Macbeth and Banquo questioning the authenticity of the predictions. Even after this, there is still much doubt in both their minds as to whether this is true or not, 'to be king stands not within the prospect of belief.'

  1. How would an audience in the time if Shakespeare reacts to the role of ...

    here", "He's here in double trust:" "as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself". "his virtues Will plead like angels" " I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself, And falls on

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

    Their power is almost threatening Macbeth, and because of this he wants to find out more, he desires what the witches have told him to come true for the future. He is frustrated with such an urge, under the witches' power to follow them to find out what they mean.

  1. Discuss the Role of the Witches and Other Supernatural Elements

    The witches however were added for interest. When 'Macbeth' was written in 1606 witchcraft was an interesting subject. The witches would be more interesting to an audience in the 17th century than to a modern day audience because they believed in supernatural forces.

  2. The role of the three Weird Sisters in the play Macbeth is to generate ...

    Every time the audience encounters the three witches there is a stage direction for thunder and a mention within the speech related to weather, or some kind of dark gloomy atmosphere is implied. On a heath in Scotland, three witches, the Weird Sisters, wait to meet Macbeth in thunder and lightning.

  1. The extent to which the supernatural contributes to Macbeth’s tragedy

    'When the battle's lost and won.' The audience have yet to find out what the battle is, however they know that the battle is won by one side and lost by another. Macbeth's fate is that he will win the battle, but will lose the battle for his soul.

  2. Shakespeare used the supernatural to entertain and terrify in Macbeth. How would you use ...

    to know more about the future of Macbeth but are however left wondering what will happen as well as when and how. The audience may also be wary of the witches and worried of how the brave and valiant warrior Macbeth that has been introduced in scene two will react and act upon their prophesises.

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