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What Part Does the Supernatural Play in Macbeth?

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Introduction

What Part Does the Supernatural Play in Macbeth? Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's best known plays. It was written between 1603 and 1606 which was the time when King James I came to the throne. James had a great interest in the supernatural and especially in witches as a group of witches had once plotted to kill him. When he came to the throne, King James ordered that his book "Daemonologie", which was about the supernatural, be printed in London. His interest in the supernatural and especially witches was bound to be reflected in the public psyche at the time as the monarchy was very powerful. This would all go towards making Macbeth more interesting for his people. Many people were very frightened of witches and as such the community would be paranoid of them. The name "Macbeth" is never said backstage at theatres as there is a lot of superstition surrounding it. Shakespeare was alleged to have used actual spells in the play so it was thought that if the name Macbeth was said the whole performance would be cursed and this superstition has been passed on and on and has never been forgotten to this day. In the theatre Macbeth will always be advertised and called "The Scottish Play" to avoid this curse. The typical people accused of witchcraft would be spinsters living alone, especially ones with strange habits or any odd quirks that could be associated with witchcraft. Anyone accused of witchcraft would receive a show trial, if any at all, and even in the event of a trial a confession would be forced out of the accused - either by the threat of, or actual, torture. If found guilty (and they invariably were) they would be burnt at the stake. Between 1560 and 1603 16,000 people, mostly women, were convicted of witchcraft and burnt alive. Shakespeare's witches were portrayed as manipulative figures of evil. ...read more.

Middle

With this news Lady Macbeth shows even more ambition and greed than before. She is already planning the death of Duncan. We can see this where it says: 'The raven himself is hoarse That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my Battlements.' The meaning of this is quite obvious. She is saying that Duncan will die in her castle that night. She then goes on to say: 'Come you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty' Here she is asking for her femininity to be taken away so she does not have the kindness and gentleness associated with the female sex but instead has the ability to be cold blooded and the cruelty more associated with males. She is asking to have the strength to commit the murder of Duncan with the help of her husband and feel no guilt. When Macbeth enters Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth of her plans to murder Duncan. She tells him that he should try and conceal his emotions more as they are giving him away and also that he should try to put on an act of a welcoming host and then become a killer. The fact that Lady Macbeth is telling her husband what to do shows she is now in control and what she is telling him to do shows how ambitious she is and also that she is without conscience. Act 2 Scene 2 is just after the murder of Duncan. Macbeth is in great turmoil as his conscience is troubling him greatly with what he has just done, so much so that he has returned from the murder scene with the daggers that he has used. This is where Lady Macbeth shows strength by taking control. She takes the daggers from Macbeth and returns to the murder scene and places them so as to incriminate Duncan's grooms. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this news he panics and tells everyone to arm themselves. In the final scene (Act 5 Scene 7) Macbeth's castle is attacked and he comes face to face with Macduff and does not heed the advice of the witches to be wary of Macduff. As they fight Macduff reveals that he was not born normally but instead by a caesarean. As warned by the witches Macduff is Macbeth's downfall as Macduff kills him. In all of these things the witches pay a role Conclusion The supernatural plays a massive part in this play. It is involved in all the major events of the play. It is the witches that plant the seeds of ambition in the minds of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to begin with and it all spans out from that. They are the downfall of all the people that are killed in the play. Duncan is killed because Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are driven to it by ambition caused by the witches. The guilt from this murder causes the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Banquo is killed because he was there when the predictions were given and also his sons were predicted to be kings so he was perceived a threat by Macbeth. Macbeth himself died because the witches gave him advice that was hard to interpret and so he got killed. Even through all this each individual is responsible for their own actions, Macbeth could have ignored the witch's predictions and but it down to chance when he became the Thane of Cawdor but instead he chose to kill Duncan and then it spiralled out of control. I think that the blame for what happened cannot be put down to either the supernatural or the individual but a mix of both, it would never have started had the witches not made their appearance but equally it would have gone no further if Macbeth had laughed it off. So, I think the supernatural plays a very large part in Macbeth but although is not the sole influence it is the driving attribute throughout the work. Jamie Irvine Macbeth Essay 09/05/07 1 ...read more.

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