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Superstition and its Role in Macbeth

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by

Katie Careen

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of Superstition and its Role in Macbeth

Bird Superstitions Superstition: a belief in magical and similar influences; an idea or practice based on this.
Nature/Animals are often related to superstitions
Example: "Don't let a black cat cross your path" Witch Superstitions Superstitions regarding the witches that are seen in Macbeth include the following: By: Alisha, Erin, Katie, and Raquel Superstition and its Purpose in Macbeth Natural Order Conclusion Natural order is used to both foreshadow, and show the mindset of people in Shakespeare's time.

-chain of being: the people in Shakespearean England knew it was prohibited to move above your place in the chain of being, and doing so would lead to tragic events
-weather (2.4.3-12): extremely dark, stormy weather (after Duncan's murder)
-animals (2.4.15-22): animals act unnaturally
-state of Scotland after Duncan's murder: tyrant ruler, new orphans and widows everyday (4.3.5-6), Scotland is "bleeding"
-divine right of kings: King Edward is almost god-like; can heal people with a touch (4.3.159-181) In conclusion, superstition is an important element in Macbeth, as it both foreshadows and reveals the mindset of the people who would have been watching Shakespeare's plays. Superstition The definition of superstition is; irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.

Superstition is present throughout the entire play as well as in the name. Actors that say "Macbeth" will have bad luck, for that reason they call it "The Scottish Play" instead. Julius Caesar "She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,
Which, like a fountain with an hundred spouts,
Did run pure blood; and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.
And these does she apply for warnings and portents
And evils imminent, and on her knee
Hath begged that I will stay at home today."
Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 81-87

"O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet;
Thy spirit walks abroad and turns our swords
In our own proper entrails."
Act 5, Scene 3, Lines 105-107 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn "Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn't need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep witches away. But I hadn't no confidence. You do that when you've lost a horseshoe that you've found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you'd killed a spider. "(1.8) Chapter 1 paragraph 8 Mark Twain William Shakespeare Why should I play the Roman fool and die
On mine own sword?" -Macbeth (5,8) Birds- Raven
Act 1, Scene 5 Act 1, Scene 5, lines 45-46: “The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan.”
Lady Macbeth believes that the raven is hoarse from croaking the coming of King Duncan’s death. Birds- Owl
Act 2, Scene 2 Act 2, Scene 2, Line 5: “It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman”.
Lady Macbeth hears an owl shriek and takes this as a signal that Macbeth has killed Duncan. Birds- Crow
Act 3, Scene 2 Act 3, Scene 2, lines 55-57: “…and the crow makes wing to th’rooky wood”.
Macbeth uses a crow, which symbolizes death to tell Lady Macbeth of his plan to kill Banquo. “Double, double toil and trouble…” (The Witches)
Act 4. Sc. 1 lines 10-11 Witches had an animal companion (called a “familiar”) such as a frog, a raven or a crow. Most common: a cat. “I come, Graymalkin” (First witch addressing her cat)
Act 1. Sc.1 line 9-10 Witches were poor, ugly, unmarried “old hags”. "...You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so"
(Banquo, seeing the Weird sisters for the first time)
Act 1. Sc. 3 line 40-49
Witches brew magic potions in cauldrons and recite spells Witches were “women of the devil” who would harm whoever crossed them The First Witch had asked a woman for a chestnut and the woman refused. The witch then went to find the woman’s husband and tortured him.
Act 1. Sc. 3 lines 4-26 Birds- Falcon and Owl Act 2, Scene4, Line 14-16 "On Tuseday last a falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place, was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed."
Foreshadows Duncan's death
Example of society's superstition towards natural order
Full transcript