Supernatural Imagery Depicted In Shakespeare's Macbeth

649 words - 3 pages

Shakespeare uses the supernatural in many different forms during the course of Macbeth to create an atmosphere and add drama, tension and interest to the story. Many of the supernatural images which appear in the play are based on the beliefs and superstitions of those around Shakespeare’s time who would have gone to see his plays. The theme of supernatural forces and beings occurs at many different points during the play, allowing a common thread to be recognized by the audience. The supernatural imagery that Shakespeare uses can be interpreted at many different levels by members of the audience who would have ranged from royalty to working class.

Shakespeare integrates the theme of supernatural occurrences throughout each act in a variety of ways. Some of the most obvious supernatural images appear in the first act with the witches who set an atmosphere for the rest of the play. The self-proclaimed “weird sisters”, are seen throughout the story as a source of evil, their prophesies lead Macbeth to his downfall in “deepest consequence”, as Banquo had warned. However, there are less obvious hints of supernatural beings such as the night of Duncan’s murder when Banquo observes that “in heaven, Their candles are all out”, stressing the eerie atmosphere of the night and indicating the displeasure of God at the situation which highlights the guilt that Macbeth is feeling.

The witches are used as a strong symbol of mystical power in the play, due to the superstitions of Shakespearean people. Their belief in witches led to many rituals including 270 witch trials, they were blamed for many unusual events such as the bubonic plague. The image of witches now seems novel and irrelevant but when the play was written (around 1603-1606) this would have been a figure that evoked fear and suspicion in all members of the audience. Shakespeare’s image of three people...

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