Hamlet And Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
Supernatural Occurrences in Hamlet and Macbeth
In the time of William Shakespeare there was a strong belief in the existence of the supernatural. Thus, the supernatural is a recurring aspect in many of Shakespeare s plays. In two such plays, Hamlet and Macbeth, the supernatural is an integral part of the structure of the plot.
The role of the supernatural is very important in Hamlet. A ghost, appearing in the form of Hamlet s father, makes several appearances in the play. It first appears to the watchmen, Marcellus and Bernardo, along with Horatio near the guardsmen s post. Once Hamlet appears, the ghost finally speaks. After this event, Horatio expresses his fears about Hamlet. The conversation between the ghost and Hamlet serves as a catalyst for Hamlet s later actions and provides insight into Hamlet s character. Hamlet is not quick to believe the ghost. The spirit that I have seen may be a devil… and perhaps out of my weakness and my melancholy abuses me to damn me (1.5.95-97). Through this quote, an aspect of Hamlet s character is revealed. Hamlet encounters the ghost next in his mother s room. In this scene the ghost makes an appearance to whet Hamlet s almost blunted purpose (3.4.113). The ghost asks Hamlet to seek revenge for the King s death and Hamlet is thus propelled to set into action a series of events that ends in Hamlet s death.
The supernatural occurs numerous times during the course of Macbeth. Of the supernatural phenomenon evident in Macbeth, the witches are the most important. The witches represent Macbeth s evil ambitions. They are the catalysts that unleash Macbeth s evil aspirations. At Macbeth s choice the witches add further unnatural ingredients to the cauldron and call up their masters. The prophetic apparitions appear here. The first apparition tells Macbeth that he cannot be harmed by anyone born of woman. This knowledge gives Macbeth a false sense of security because he believes that he cannot be harmed; yet Macduff was not of woman born. His mother was dead and a corpse when Macduff was born. The appearance of Banquo s ghost provides insight into Macbeth s character. Macbeth wonders why murder had taken place many times in the past before law prevented it and yet the dead are coming back. The final form of the supernatural is the air-drawn dagger (2.1.33), which leads Macbeth to his victim. When the dagger appears to him, Macbeth finally becomes victim to the delusions of his fevered brain. The dagger points to Duncan s room and appears to be covered in blood.
The supernatural is a recurring aspect in many of the plays by William Shakespeare. In Hamlet and Macbeth the supernatural is an integral part of the structure of the plot. In these plays the supernatural provides a catalyst for action by the characters. It supplies insight into the major players and it augments the impact of many key scenes. The supernatural appeals to the audience s curiosity of the mysterious and thus strengthens their interest.