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

What do we learn from Macbeth about the contemporary attitudes to witchcraft and the supernatural and what are their functions in the play?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What do we learn from Macbeth about the contemporary attitudes to witchcraft and the supernatural and what are their functions in the play? During the Elizabethan era belief in the supernatural was not only commonplace but unconditional, although a fundamentally Christian society; people of the period were convinced that the actions of the paranormal had significant effects on their own existence. Macbeth itself is entangled with numerous mysterious endeavours, for example, the forebodings of the witches, Macbeth's hallucinations and the mystical healing powers of King Edward the Confessor all add to the play's abnormal yet, for the time, acceptable atmosphere. There are four powerful, unrelenting, incessant forces of witchcraft and the supernatural at work in the play. These paranormal influences have three main functions focused on achieving the writer's intent. They explain the transformation of Macbeth's character, showing his vulnerability without evoking pity, invent an atmosphere of exhilaration and agitation, similar to the car chase kitsch of modern cinema yet they also promote the deeper message Shakespeare wishes to convey, that 'if you dance with the devil' you will have to 'pay the piper'. ...read more.

Middle

There is a duality in the function of the hallucinations; they also help Shakespeare to develop the audiences understanding of his character transformation. Macbeth's conscience plays tricks upon his mind, the dagger and the visions of Banquo provide glimpses into the good hearted nature he once had. Macbeth is an anti-hero, he is presented in all his glory at the beginning of the play, he has been valiant in battle, drowned in noble titles, 'Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis' and a model servant to his king and country. Macbeth's almost super human powers are instantaneously placed along side the evil powers of the witches, 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen', one of their functions is to unravel the darker, dormant side of his true aspirations, he is mislead and as the witches reveal his own secret desires and dark ambition, he proves to be easily corrupted, 'My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical Shakes so my single state of man, that function Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is But what is not'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Witchcraft and the supernatural provide the basis of the play. Macbeth gives an insight into the effect and importance of the paranormal on Elizabethan society, illustrating how it not only satisfied a lot of questions that, to a world that had not yet truly discovered science, would have otherwise been left unanswered but acted as a form of social control, something to fear and respect, acting as an example of what will happen to you if you ensnare yourself with the dark forces. The 'Scottish Play' represents a complete upheaval of contemporary society. The very thought that a king should be murdered was taboo, but as these thoughts are given life,. As these actions unfold, the pyramid of life completely self destructs, Shakespeare draws out the iniquity in Macbeth through a number of different processes including both his own ambitions and those of his wife, yet it is the witches that represent the unquestionable evil in the play. To the audience, they symbolize a plausible explanation for Macbeth's plunge into darkness, their unearthly ability blinding him with the power of temptation and dragging him downwards. ...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 Miscellaneous 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 Miscellaneous essays

  1. Analysis of Macbeth - Mad or Bad

    Additionally focusing on Macbeth soliloquies in his next we see that Macbeth is afraid of Banquo and Banquo's innocence and purity. Also that he and Lady Macbeth can not have children - in a highly religious county not being able to have children suggested your evil and barrier to God.

  2. the midnight betrayal

    "Just do what he says George... it's going to be ok," Fernando hinted to George. "What's prison industry?" George said with a puzzled look on his face. "It's when we do the dirty work for the Germans," Fernando replied in a cheeky voice, looking eagerly for the reaction on Georges face, but it never came and

  1. To what extent are Shakespeares plays a product of the Elizabethan theatrical context in ...

    This is effective because some people came to the Globe just to listen to the performance and also listening to the characters feelings and emotions would have been interesting. Also, actors in Othello would give verbal description of the setting; this also supports the idea that Othello was a product of the Elizabethan theatrical context.

  2. how Much Ado about Nothing reinforces and/or challenges the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan Society.

    This is evident when Claudio plans to immediately act upon the information he receives about Hero's disloyalty. He states, "If I see anything tonight, why I should not marry her tomorrow in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I shame her" (3.2.91).

  1. Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural

    The signal being isolated at the bottom on his gives is the idea of the sinister and supernatural effect. In the Red Room the narrator does not believe in supernatural at the beginning of the story " I can assure you".

  2. How Does Shakespeare Use His Secondary Characters In Macbeth?

    to finish, even more skilful is the Porter that can make his audience laugh. Shakespeare wrote this character many interesting lines, some very inappropriate over hearing what Macduff and Lennox are saying about drink the Porter takes it upon himself to say some of the side effects "nose-painting, sleep, and

  1. english macbeth

    as he had originally decided, 'If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me without my stir'. He goes to the extent where he murders the king, things are going according to his plan, but since it's a tragic play his downfall has yet to come.

  2. Examine the way the two scenes from "The Sixth Sense" are presented in order ...

    Cole's response is to take another step back, and explain that they were told to draw a picture, any picture. Cole drew one of a man getting hurt in the neck by another man. The look of shock that crosses Malcolm's face is very evident, and this shot comes just

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