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Witchcraft and Supernatural in Shakespeares's Time

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Sarah Stark

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Witchcraft and Supernatural in Shakespeares's Time

Witchcraft and Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare's Time
Why Shakespeare used these beings
Most people believe that Shakespeare used witches and other supernatural beings because it added a dramatic effect. Also during his time people were persecuted for being witches, so this can be thought of as an early form of a satire.
Relevance to Macbeth
The role of supernatural is very important in Macbeth. Ghosts, witches, floating daggers and prophetic apparitions all make appearances in Macbeth. In Macbeth Shakespeare used popular beliefs about witches and witchcraft. Witches were supposed to be capable of doing all the things that the three weird sisters are said to perform in Macbeth. It was believed that they could see into the future; that they could create storms, hail, thunder and lightning; that they were able to sink ships; dry up springs; stop the sun and change night into day and day into night. They could also cause the death of their enemies, and could make themselves invisible. In order to work their charms they would open graves and steal parts of the bodies to make potions. For this purpose the bodies of unbaptized babies were especially prized. And witches could call up the dead.
Witchcraft and the Supernatural
In the time of William Shakespeare there was a strong belief of witchcraft and the supernatural. Because of this, the supernatural is a recurring aspect in many of Shakespeare's plays.It provides a catalyst for action, an insight into character, and develops the impact of many key scenes.
Shakespeare's plays that employed the use of witches, ghosts, and other supernatural beings are Hamlet and Macbeth. In Macbeth, the supernatural abilities of the 3 witches and the devilish fiends of Lady Macbeth are essential to the plot.
The witchcraft and supernatural in Macbeth created a dramatic impact and influence on the audience. In Shakespeare's time most people believed in witches and witchcraft.Between 1560 and 1602, hundreds of women were convicted as witches and executed. Because of this, Shakespeare's work created a fearful mindset in his audience.
Affect on Audience
Work Cited
- http://www.studymode.com/essays/How-Does-Shakespeare-Use-The-Witches-950472.html

- http://www.field-of-themes.com/shakespeare/essays/Esupernatural.htm

- http://www.slideshare.net/meaglesham1/supernatural-elements-in-macbeth-10359154
The Three Witches
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
from Macbeth

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches' mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

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