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What does the supernatural contribute to the interest of ‘Macbeth’?

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What does the supernatural contribute to the interest of 'Macbeth'? In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, there are many incidents which allude to the involvement of the supernatural. The use of the supernatural through various guises such as the witches, the visions, the ghost of Banquo, and the apparitions, are key elements in making the concept and the themes behind the play work; they entice the audience and make the play dramatically interesting. Whilst the play is essentially a psychological study, we learn about the protagonist's mind through his reaction to the supernatural. These forces are also an embodiment of the evil that exists in the world at large and they explore how both internal and external forces can manipulate the individual. Shakespeare's audience strongly believed in God, the devil, heaven and hell. They also believed in evil spirits, ghosts and the power of witchcraft and magic. During Shakespeare's time women were still being hanged and drowned on suspicion of witchcraft so the image of the three witches and other supernatural elements was immediately acceptable and believed by his audience. The play was performed before King James I who was known to have an interest in witchcraft and supernatural happenings so Shakespeare considered this when writing the play. Shakespeare instantly creates a mood of terror and unearthly evil in the first stage direction: "Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches." The opening scene introduces the witches and establishes a sense of darkness. The weather is chaotic and wild, which enhances this sense and suggests that something evil may happen. ...read more.


When the first prophecy comes true, Banquo warns Macbeth: "But tis strange: And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray's In deepest consequence" This is the advice of a good, honest man. Banquo is aware of the deceptiveness of evil and the danger of temptation and he warns Macbeth. In Macbeth's soliloquy he mentions 'murder', which is his own idea created internally. The idea of murder comes from within Macbeth and it is he who connects the idea of kingship with murder. However we also learn this idea is "fantastical", only existing in his imagination. Macbeth says: "If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir." Macbeth decides to leave the prophecy of Kingship to fate, without his own interference. This reminds the audience that Macbeth is not completely evil, and again we pity him as he has been manipulated. However Macbeth changes his mind when Duncan announces that Malcolm is to succeed him as king. He now sees Malcolm as an obstacle between himself and the throne and he succumbs to his ambition and the prospect of power. Macbeth says: "Stars hide your fires! Let not the light see my black and deep desires;" He calls upon the stars to not shine their light on his dark thoughts, which heightens the evil flaw in his character. The witches have ignited his ambition and drive him towards evil doing. ...read more.


However, Macduff was not born naturally but by caesarean, and Macduff is the person that shall kill Macbeth. The third apparition is a boy holding a tree and it says: "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him." Macbeth thinks that he will not come to any harm because it is impossible for the wood to move. He feels secure, confident and invincible because he believes these apparitions but he interprets them incorrectly. When the army come to attack him, they hold branches from the trees used as a disguise, therefore Birnam Wood does go to Dunsinaine Hill. The witches manipulate Macbeth and lead him to his tragic end. He is oblivious to the ambiguity of the witches' language. The witches leave Macbeth and he is alone. He has interpreted the apparitions to have positive meanings and the witches have deceptively manipulated him. The supernatural forces and elements contribute much interest to the play and add drama and tension throughout. The supernatural powers release the underlying ambition and desires for power within Macbeth and finally they lead him to his doom. Through the evil already present in Macbeth's mind they manipulate him into terrible murders. On a wider scale, it shows the potential evil within us all, which can be freed by temptation and desire for a particular goal. The supernatural elements show how internal evil forces present in the mind can be manipulated by external forces. The witches are the cause of the tragedy, as they release the ambition and desire in Macbeth that would have remained buried if not for their malevolent intentions. Lauren Edwards 10 Clement Mrs Pickard English Coursework ...read more.

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