The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth

The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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The Supernatural in Macbeth


Displays of supernatural activities were used throughout Macbeth, and evidence of this was brought out in the appearances of the three Witches. In Shakespeare's day, special effects were not used in his plays. Therefore, the dramatic performances and the suspenseful scenes were the fundamental qualities to making a great play. Shakespeare used the element of the unknown to evoke fear in the minds of his audience. By allowing the Witches to see into the future, it made Macbeth more suspenseful. With their prophecies about Macbeth?s future, they intrigue the audience to see if they are correct. The Witches were a symbol of evil, and Shakespeare uses this fear of the devil to give his plays an additional eerie and haunting effect. Shakespeare also used an evil character that can easily influence the main character in his stories, in this case, it was Lady Macbeth. It is essential that  Lady Macbeth and the three Witches create the plot of Macbeth. Without the Witches powers of foretelling the future and the evil persuasions of his wife, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth would have never become king.

    The expression "weird sisters", used from the 1400's, means "Fatal sisters". The word "weird" or in Old English Wyrd was a noun meaning Fate. In Act 1, Scene 3, The three Witches describe themselves as fore-tellers of  destiny, and they all introduce themselves to Macbeth and Banquo as "The weird sisters, hand in hand". The appearance that the three Witches possess is that of pure evil. In the starting of the scene, each of the three Witches describe their wickedness with a proud manner. For example, when they asked the Second Witch where she had been, she replied, "Killing swine". This statement shows how the Witches enjoyed being devilish. The impression that the audience gets of Witches is that they are hideously evil. In Shakespeare's time, witches were believed to have supernatural powers, they could transform themselves into other shapes, usually animals. When the First Witch describes where she had been, she referred to sailing across the sea in a sieve and transforming into a rat without a tail, But in a sieve I'll thither sail, and like a rat without a tail, I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do?.

Witches were also believed to  fortunetellers. The three Witches prophecies in Macbeth, foreshadow later events in the play.

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The Witches prophecies influence Macbeth in a great way because Macbeth had secret ambitions of becoming king and these prophecies sparked his quest for becoming the King. When the Witches  hail Macbeth as the "Thane of Glamis and Cawdor" and  they state that he "shalt be king hereafter", Macbeth was speechless because of his secret ambitions. Although the Witches did not cause Macbeth to murder Duncan, they did provide the temptation, it was up to Macbeth to commit the sin of murder. The Witches were seen as deceptive and treacherous, yet Macbeth believed their stories because his character was more open to temptation, he was vulnerable to the devil's charm.

    Lady Macbeth was another evil presence in the story. She would have been believed to be possessed by the devil in the time of the Elizabethans because of her devilish ways of persuading her husband by using sex as her weapon. She had many hellish ideas for her and her husband to become more powerful.  However, she feared Macbeth was not cruel enough, that he was "too full o' the milk of human kindness". According to Lady Macbeth, her husband had too much ordinary human nature in him to "catch the nearest way out, so she used her sensual powers to charm him into following her ways. Lady Macbeth persuades her husband with these words, "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it". She wanted Macbeth to look hospitable and honorable, but also to be a true man underneath, one that would fight and kill to become king.

    In most of Shakespear's plays, the use of the supernatural is used to give another great effect to the plot of the story. In Macbeth, the supernatural abilities of the three Witches and the devilish fiends of Lady Macbeth were essential to the plot of the story. Without the coercion of his wife, Macbeth would have never been altered into a corrupt and ungodly man. Also, without the prophecies of the Witches, one would never know if Macbeth would have killed Duncan for the kingship.
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