Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
The Supernatural in Macbeth
Extraordinary occurrences in a literary work make it more engaging. An example of this usage is found in the supernatural events that occur in William Shakespeare s, Macbeth. The use of the supernatural is portrayed through the witches, the mystical visions, the ghosts, and the phantoms.
Supernatural events occur throughout the play. At the beginning, the three witches predict the fate of Macbeth. This gives insight to the audience into the battles lost and won (I, I, 4) by Macbeth. Following this scene, the plan on how Macbeth will gain the throne is brought about. This is clearly an example of how the supernatural could negatively affect an individual. By reason of the fact that when Macbeth found out from the witches his future, he could have chosen one of two paths: to accept it was going to happen or murder the king to assure of his gaining of the throne. He chose to murder him, as his dreams and wife had urged him too. To make sure that Macbeth would go through with this deed, she displayed a form of the supernatural, as she called upon the evil spirits to give her the power to plot the murder of Duncan without any remorse or conscience making think [her] blood ( ) (I, V, 42-57). The prophecy the supernatural had relayed to Macbeth was one of only evil intention and therefore would eventually lead into sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care (I, III) for both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, as they become mad because of the many murders they will commit to make the prophecies come true. The night that Macbeth intended to murder King Duncan, Macbeth was waiting for his Lady to ring the bell signaling him to go to Duncan s chamber, he sees a vision of a floating dagger. This supernatural event marks one of the initial signs of him becoming insane. When he envisions it, he says, let me clutch thee that summons thee to heaven or to hell ( ) This interest in the dagger is what leads Macbeth to Duncan s chamber and because of the blood it was covered with and its evilness, he was able to overcome any doubt and kill the king. After the deed was done, Banquo, a thane who was supposed to inherit the throne had many suspicions that it was Macbeth and Macbeth and his wife sensed this. Therefore, they had to have him killed. Once the murder had been committed and Macbeth was notified of the finished deed, he observed a ghost of Banquo sitting in his regular seat at a banquet. This causes Macbeth to act wildly, of course arousing suspicion in those who viewed this (III, vi, 31-120). By this time, the use of the supernatural has increased to such an extent that Macbeth is constantly relying on the prophecies of the three witches. Unfortuantely, he had become blinded by the fact that nobody could mess with fate, not even supernatural forces. The evil intentions of the witches prevail when they plan to lead Macbeth to his downfall by making him feel over- confident (III, v, 1-35). Further in the play, Macbeth finds his way to the witchs cave and demands from them to know more of what lies ahead for him. They, with their evil intentions predict what he is going to ask and produce the first manifestation which is an armed head. “Macbeth!, Macbeth!, Macbeth!, beware of Macduff; beware thane of Fife. Dismiss me: enough.” (Act VI, Scene I, ll.77-78). The first phantom tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff. Then the second apparition appears (a bloody child), and says: “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” (Act IV, Scene I, ll.85-87). This appearance informs Macbeth that no man born from a woman can harm him. Finally, the last manifestation appears and is a child crowned, with a tree in his hand. The phantom explains that he will never be defeated until Great Birnam wood shall come against him to High Dunsinane Hill: “Be lion melted, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are: Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam wood to High Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” (Act VI, Scene I, ll.98-102). These revelations convinced Macbeth that this was his fate and he became over-confident and this lead him to his death.
As one can see, the use of the supernatural in Macbeth results quite well with the respect of the unknown. Without the witches, the ghost, the visions, and the phantoms, “Macbeth” would have been a dull and tiresome play. Even today’s readers need motivation to read, and this ancient superstition of spirits enhanced the play dramatically.