The Role of the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Play Macbeth

931 Words4 Pages
The Role of the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Play Macbeth

"Macbeth" was a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in 1606. Five

years after the death of Elizabeth 1st and the accession of James 1st,

also James Vi of Scotland. The play shows the defeat of a man who has

many fine qualities, but commits murder as a result of his ambition to

become a king influenced by a prophecy of the supernatural witches.

The first scene shows the witches planning to meet Macbeth. The

setting of this scene is very important; they meet on a moor in

thunder and lightning. The surroundings portray an evil image. The

moor is a very lonely, barren and bleak place, while thunder and

lightning are associated with evil. The witches´ language includes

rhyming couplets that contradict each other and sound very powerful.

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air"

This quote tells us about the witches´ hatred for all things good, and

their love for things that are evil. Shakespeare adds rhyme and rhythm

to the witches´ language to emphasize their wickedness. The second

part of this quote adds to their image of wickedness and would have

created tension among the audience.

Most of Shakespeare's audience believed in the supernatural as they

were discovering the origin of life. Some critics say that the witch

made Macbeth commit the murder, but was this entirely true or was it

Macbeth's wife who persuaded him into doing so? How much influence did

the supernatural have on Macbeth? These are just some of the questions

that I will be exploring within this essay.

The visual impact of the witches may give a sign of their power, and

may fascinate the audience to look forwards in re-meeting them. Their

strange appearance "That not look like th' inhabitants of the earth"

shows that Banquo and Macbeth are mesmerized by their looks. In act 3

scene 1, Banquo seems to comment more about their looks than Macbeth,

and gives signs that Banquo is taking them less seriously than
Open Document