Shakespeare's Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth
The supernatural is widely used in Macbeth, and covers major sections
of it. It is used to generate interest, and to provoke thought and
At the time the play was written, James the 1st was the English
monarch. James the 1st was originally James the 4th on the Scottish
throne, until there was a union of crowns between England and Scotland
in the late 16th century. Shakespeare wrote the play for him, so the
play Macbeth is popularly known as 'the Scottish play'.
Also during this time there were many more occurrences when witches
and heretics were burnt at the stake than at any period in history,
because people believed they manufactured plagues, pestilence and
famine through their 'black magic.'
When Shakespeare was writing the play, he wanted to impress the king
and interest his audience on his stage, the Globe Theatre. Shakespeare
did this by including the supernatural in his play.
Both king and populous have always been intrigued by the horror of
witches and the supernatural, but not as much as in the period of the
16th and 17th centuries. This was probably because of people wanting
to be religiously purer and remove disease from society. In the 16th
century many events occurred that were bizarre and impossible to
explain so were blamed on the supernatural.
Before James gained the crown of England as well as Scotland,
witchcraft was already on the people's minds. In 1563, parliament made
law that making murder by witchcraft was punishable by death. Forty
years later, any use of witchcraft was punishable by death. These laws
were made by a protestant parli...
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...as the famous sword fight between Macbeth and Macduff
at the end of the play. In the RSC's version, the sword fight is done
conventionally with swords. I consider this to generate a more
dramatic and keener interest in it. The Globes version was represented
with pebbles signifying their lives, and a weird hand tugging that I
did not understand.
If I directed the play, I would have gone for a more modern approach.
Macbeth could be considered just as some kind of Shakespearean current
affairs representation. Because of this, I consider that the witches
could have some kind of terrorist guise. Biological and chemical
weapons could replace the broth. I think this would be more
dramatically effective for the audience. I would also get full use out
of the lighting and special effects available in a more modern