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What response does Shakespeare(TM)s presentation of the supernatural provoke in the audience and how does he achieve this?

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Macbeth What response does Shakespeare's presentation of the supernatural provoke in the audience and how does he achieve this? In order to understand what impact was made on the people of Shakespeare's day we must first understand the audience itself. In modern day society supernatural beings are effective of provoking reactions in audiences so imagine how much bigger the impact would be in Elizabethan times. Back in the 17th century people truly believed in witches and the king of the time, James I, was leading the witch hunt. People genuinely feared the supernatural and Shakespeare played on that fear, and made the witches evil, deformed and with intimidating powers, thus making Macbeth the modern day equivalent of a horror film. Combine that with Banquo's ghost, a few visions and the apparitions seen in Macbeth's final meeting with the witches and you get a much more dramatic atmosphere of suspense. It provides a catalyst for action, an insight into character, and augments the impact of many key scenes. Of the supernatural phenomenon evident in Macbeth the witches are perhaps the most important. ...read more.


Lady Macbeth also suffers from visions; she sees blood on her hands and, in her sleeping state, moans of the underworld: "Hell is murky". This implies that she is seeing hell. In a quest for power Lady Macbeth had given herself to the evil spirits and has even invited them to "take my milk for gall". The spirits have possessed her and appear to be torturing her in her sleep. Ironically she originally called on the spirits to give her strength, to "unsex" her, but they weaken her and ultimately cause her downfall. These evil spirits could easily be the witches. Although Lady Macbeth seems to have a stronger mental character at the start of the play and appears to be dominant (which was quite a feat in the andocentric society of Shakespeare), she is now suffering from remorse and confusion. She feels, "Tis safer to be that which we destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy". Lady Macbeth describes the supernatural as her, "destruction", and she refers to her royalty and wealth as, "doubtful joy". ...read more.


For example, the crowned child represents Malcolm, the son of Duncan who defeated Macbeth in order to become king. These images foretell the future, which the witches had explained to Macbeth, but the witches disguised the truth in order to give Macbeth a false sense of security. In a way this could invoke feelings of sympathy for Macbeth as the witches are clearly manipulating him and taking advantage of his desperate state of mind. Also he and his wife seem to be constantly tortured by various images/hallucinations. The supernatural occurrences in Macbeth are effective, especially in Elizabethan times when belief in the supernatural was more widespread than today. The supernatural appeals to the audience's curiosity of the mysterious and thus strengthens their interest. Using supernatural beings creates a dramatic air in this, Shakespeare's final tragedy. The supernatural may have far more control than thought originally and this taps into an underlying fear within the audience; for instance it scared King James I to write Demonologie which further-spread witch-hunting. I believe Shakespeare's ambition was to scare people into thinking more morally about their actions and to stop people striving for power when they already have all they need. ...read more.

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