Monday, October 28, 2019
Various forms of the supernatural in Macbeth Essay Example for Free
Various forms of the supernatural in Macbeth Essay Shakespeare uses various forms of the supernatural in Macbeth, such as the witches, ghosts, visions and even Lady Macbeth. However, before analysing how and why he utilised the supernatural, it must first be ascertained why he was able to make use of the supernatural. At the time in which Shakespeare wrote Macbeth (the beginning of the 17th century) it was widely believed that witches existed and possessed evil powers, the most common and stereotypical of which were known to all people of this period. Even the king (James I) upheld this belief as is demonstrated in his essay entitled Daemonologie in which he states, The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devil, the witches or enchanters, hath moved me. Therefore it was possible for Shakespeare to make use of the supernatural in Macbeth as his contemporary audience would have readily believed it. His use of the supernatural in Macbeth could also be seen as flattery of the king by Shakespeare, showing his support for the kings theories in order to win his favour and even donation towards Shakespeares future productions. Shakespeare uses the supernatural to create a certain ambiguity: was Macbeth thoroughly evil, or did the witches directly lead him to his ultimate destruction? Firstly, with his use of language and description, he creates a terrifying image of the three witches to deliberately frighten the audience. He also makes use of stereotypical ideas about witches to make it clear that these are real witches, witches that the audience of the time would have believed in without question. He incorporates both of these factors with the stage direction of Thunder and lightening every time the witches enter. Bad weather conditions such as thunder, lightening and rain are still a common tool used to create frightening situations in horror films of today. However, Shakespeare does not only suggest the supernatural but actually states the three hags to be witches. The use of three is also notable as it is supposed to be a magical or mystical number. In the first act, the witches are already predicting the future That will be ere the set of sun, which is a supernatural power the Jacobean audience believed witches to possess. Another common belief about witches is introduced in the first act by the lines, I come Graymalkin, and, Paddock calls. Witches were thought to have familiars which were demons who helped with their evil work. Therefore, by the end of the first act, Shakespeare has already established that these are real witches with real powers, thereby indicating that the supernatural is going to play a significant part in the play. Throughout the play Shakespeare deliberately includes these widely believed powers that witches were supposed to have, which suggests that the witches and the supernatural do affect the outcome of events and that Macbeth was not entirely to blame. The line, Sleep shall neither night nor day hang upon his penthouse lid, is an example of the witches power over humans and could also suggest that when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth cannot sleep later in the play, the witches might have something to do with this. There is therefore a constant reminder of the fact that it could be the witches controlling things but alternatively there is still the possibility that they merely suggest and Macbeth is indeed in control of his own actions. In Act 1 Scene 3 the real powers of the witches are reiterated in preparation for the entry of Macbeth. The common practises of witches are once again included, such as that they could sail in a sieve and turn themselves into animals, in a sieve Ill thither sail, and like a rat without a tail and also that they had the ability to change the weather Ill give thee a wind. The point of the line, Yet it shall be tempest -tossed. is to really instil in the audience the power of the supernatural and this is aided by the rhythmic chant that is built up by this spell. Shakespeare is portraying the witches as a powerful team of wicked, evil women, all in preparation for Macbeth to enter. This appears to indicate that Shakespeare is showing the audience that the supernatural will have power over Macbeth just as they had power over the Master of the Tiger. An important aspect, however, in deciding on Macbeths responsibility for his actions is the fact that he asks the witches to speak Speak if you can, he invites the supernatural into his life. At this point, the witches ability to foresee the future is used again in the form of two predictions. The first is that he will be Thane Of Cawdor, this is frightening for the audience as they already know he will get this title and therefore their prediction is obviously correct . The second prediction is that he shalt be king hereafter. This poses the question: are the witches merely giving Macbeth the suggestion from which he formulates the idea himself, are they simply telling him his fate, or is it the witches actions that cause Macbeth to carry out the deed of killing Duncan. It is noticeable that after this prediction Macbeth is said to be rapt withal, indicating that he is shocked by this but at this point he is still able to dismiss all dishonourable thoughts. In Act 4 Scene 1, Shakespeares use of language to create a grotesque and terrifying image of the supernatural can be seen once again. The use of repulsive and cruel images such as, Finger of birth-strangle babe, ditch-delivered by a drab, illustrate the gruesome scenes deliberately included by Shakespeare to terrify the audience. The horror is portrayed with the use of an onomatopoeic chant, Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble. This line also sounds particularly sinister as a result of the alliteration, assonance and consonance used together to create a powerful incantation. Common stereotypes are used yet again in the form of images of the night, such as darkness, moons eclipse and wool of bat. Disgusting images of dismembered reptiles are also included such as, Adders fork, and blind-worms sting, lizards leg A contemporary reference is made by the words blaspheming Jew and nose of Turk, and Tartars lips because the audience would have been completely Christian and these peoples would have been destined for hell. Once the seen has been set, the witches can play a significant role in that they give Macbeth a false confidence by misleading him with riddles this is used by Shakespeare to create dramatic irony.
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