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

What role does the supernatural play in 'Macbeth'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Will Randall What role does the supernatural play in 'Macbeth' and how does Shakespeare present it In order to understand the true influence of witchcraft in Shakespeare's Macbeth, you must first look at the context it was written in. Macbeth was written just after the turn of the 17th century when James the sixth of Scotland assumed the throne of England. The king had a fascination with the supernatural; witchcraft, apparitions and ghosts, and the evil that these things can create. All of these were of great concern to James, he even wrote a book on the subject. During the same decade Shakespeare wrote King Lear, which heavily focussed on Madness and the chain of being as the King lost control. The theory was that is something happened to the king; everything below in the chain/hierarchy would be affected, which is everything on the planet. Hamlet was also written at this time, this has many references to ghosts and the influence that this has on Hamlet and his sanity. People at the time also believed in witch craft and perceived it to be a genuine threat to the social order. ...read more.

Middle

They may have not gone into detail deliberately as a ploy to draw the un-suspecting Macbeth into their supernatural arena. The lack of instruction as well as detail, leads Macbeth's mind to wander dangerously. The excitement at the news is where the similarities between Banqou and Macbeth end. They are both examples of static and dynamic characterisation. Banquo is an example of static characterisation; he withstands the trial and remains pure throughout, he does not sink to sinful levels in order to make his prophecies become real. Where as Macbeth is an example of dynamic characterisation, he falls into illusion and loses his integrity, and commits to acts of sin by killing Duncan in order to complete his own set of prophecies. It is possible to think Macbeth would never have done this, unless the witches hadn't spoken to him, as he displayed no intention or malice in earlier scenes. Yet at the same time Macbeth overcomes his ambition for a while, and says he will not have 'a part in this.' It is Lady Macbeth, who after reading Macbeth's letter, talks him round to the murder. This indicates the supernatural did not influence Macbeth, but Lady Macbeth, another human. ...read more.

Conclusion

Will Randall It is true that the supernatural and witchcraft are thematically important throughout Macbeth, which is not uncommon in this chapter of Shakespeare's writing. Yet is Macbeth influenced? Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at various points along the way spoke to the spirit world. Lady Macbeth asks demonic spirits to possess her body and mind, and remove all human weakness. Lady Macbeth embraces the evil and allows herself to be influenced. At the start all be it for a short time, Macbeth rises above the predictions and tries to remain pure as Banquo did. Yet the crucial point is he could not ignore the visions of glory the witches put in his mind. All be it they did not instruct him to sin, this triggered his ambition 'I have no spur....but only/vaulting ambition.' The supernatural backdrop to the play intensifies our sense of evil; but does not dictate events. Macbeth is a free agent and has free will. There is no tragedy at all without the realisation that Macbeth has chosen his course of action, and each subsequent action is reaffirming the original decision, the bad choice. ...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. How does Shakespeare Present the Supernatural in Macbeth?

    destryed; it is also made descriptive and bold showing the unnatural happenings. "That darkness does the face of earth entomb when living light should kiss it? 'Tis unnatural, even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last, a falcon tow'ring in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawked and killed."

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

    From the very start of the play you can feel the power that the witches have over Macbeth, from their lines 'Fair is foul and foul is fair' when Macbeth replies with similar words. Although it is a small line, and not very noticeable, it is the start of the

  1. Shakespeare's use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

    Alternatively, it could mean that Macbeth is describing the battle against the Norwegians at Fife. I would consider it most likely that Macbeth has been possessed, as the witches cast a spell on Macbeth before he arrived on the scene.

  2. Lady Macbeth's Character in Macbeth.

    she thinks that her hands are covered in blood that cannot be removed: " Yet here's a spot...Out, damned spot! Out, I say! What, will these hands ne'er be clean? Here�s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

  1. How does the supernatural influence the character of Macbeth during the course of the ...

    Evil has many ways of manifesting itself. Since the witches are evil, they take on the appearances of nature's animals. They take on the shape of cats and crows. The colors of the animals are always black because it represents evil in its true form. Gloomy and dark are represented in the color black therefore describing evil.

  2. Discuss the importance of the witches and Supernatural to 'Macbeth'

    The image created here is in the form of a dagger. This image of the dagger is very supernatural and one could argue that it is all in his head and it is his conscience speaking. "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?

  1. Explore the role of the witches in 'Macbeth'. To what extent do they influence ...

    is afraid that Banquo will guess at what he intends to do, he is trying to act casual before the murder so no-one will notice that he is edgy and then suspect him after the murder has been committed. Macbeth lies to Banquo because he is feeling guilty about what

  2. Discuss the importance of the Supernatural in William Shakespeare's

    spirits to fill her with single-minded cruelty so that she can go forward with her wicked plan. She asks the witches to "Unsex" her and that she wants them to stop her feeling pity or guilt. She calls the spirits "Murd'ring Ministers," which means she recognises that they can influence people towards murder.

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