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Supernatural in Macbeth

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Ethan Zhang

on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of Supernatural in Macbeth

In the first act, the Three Witches make their first major appearance. They are seen to be chanting and foreshadowing future events.
Act II
In the first scene, Macbeth is initiating his plot to murder Duncan in order to fulfill the witches' prophesies.

In doing so, Macbeth sees an air-drawn dagger.
It is unknown if this may be his hallucinations or a ghostly omen. As a result, it is an unexplainable phenomenon.

The dagger is described to be bloody and leads Macbeth to Duncan's room, therefore "pushing" Macbeth in committing the deed.
By creating a supernatural element like the dagger, Shakespeare forms symbolism open for interpretation, therefore giving the audience the same uncertainty as Macbeth himself.

The supernatural events seen in Act III contain some of play's most significant scenes. It is widely recognized as the climax of the play.
Act III (Continued)
In scene 5, the witches make their second appearance along with their queen, Hecate.
In this act, the witches make their final appearance with the three prophetic apparitions.
In the final act, all of the witch's apparitions are proved to hold truth and Macbeth is killed as result.
In a sense, the supernatural occurrences guided the selfish Macbeth into his own downfall.
The Supernatural Element
The supernatural theme is very significant in Macbeth and may be identified in multiple scenes.
It is presented to the audience in varied forms.
Witches, a floating dagger, a ghost, and prophetic apparitions make appearance throughout Macbeth.
Supernatural events play an integral structure to the plot. It builds an impetus for action, and a significant insight to the development of characters while further emphasizing the impact of crucial scenes.
"Fair is foul and foul is fair,
Hover through the fog and filthy air."
In addition, the witches' first prophesies for Macbeth and Banquo's greatness are revealed.

Following the encounter, Macbeth and Banquo's conversation show uncertainty by this unexplainable phenomenon.
This is seen around (1.3.80)
The Witches in Macbeth
In the 16th century, witches were seen as an unexplainable real supernatural phenomenon that sparked great fear in Europe and many places worldwide.
In Macbeth, the witches symbolized evil. They emitted a haunting atmosphere and emphasized Macbeth's eerie plot development.

The witches act as the voice for a forbidden knowledge and abnormal consequence to Macbeth. He refers to them as "Instruments of Darkness"

He dislikes their existence, however he needs them to guide and provide him knowledge - in which leads him to his ultimate demise.
Supernatural -
beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena.
The audience is made aware that Shakespeare uses the supernatural to depict what evil is.
Supernatural events are used wherever evil lurks.
"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight?"
During the banquet, Banquo's ghost makes an appearance.
Only Macbeth can see this phenomenon.
He becomes very frightened and almost loses his sanity.
This is the play's turning point.
After the organized murder of Banquo, Macbeth and his wife prepare a state banquet.
"Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!"
Ghost of Banquo
The appearance of Banquo's ghost displays an insight to Macbeth's character and his mental instability.

It shows how much Macbeth's state of mind has deteriorated.
The ghost is a supernatural symbol of all the crimes Macbeth has committed, while it also shows Macbeth that there could have been a better path to choose.
As previously mentioned, Shakespeare uses the supernatural events or beings to illustrate and emphasize evil in his play.
This scene shows the witches discussing the reveal of Macbeth's fate.
It foreshadows future events and a Macbeth's tragic downfall.
"He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear.
And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy." (3.6.30-33)
This quote means:

He will be fooled into thinking he is greater than fate, he will mock death, and he will think he is above wisdom, grace, and fear. As you all know, overconfidence is man’s greatest enemy.
- The first apparition show's Macbeth's head - slain by Macduff. This builds Macbeth's fear of Macduff.

- The second apparition states that no man born of woman shall harm Macbeth. This leads to Macbeth falsely believing that he is invincible.

- The final apparition tells that Macbeth will not be vanquished until the Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Macbeth is given a false sense of security.
Effects on the Play
Each instance of supernatural in Macbeth are causes or effects of an action.

- The witches were responsible for setting the plot in motion.
-When Macbeth murders Duncan, he was lead by the appearance of the dagger.
-When Macbeth murders Banquo, his ghost returns to haunt Macbeth.
-When Macbeth is murdered, he was mislead by the prophetic apparitions.
The uses of supernatural in Macbeth are significant, and are essential to the progression of the plot.
Work Cited:
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977
"No Fear Shakespeare: Macbeth."
. Sparknotes. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
Brent, Michael. "What Are the Three Prophecies in "Macbeth"?"
EHow. Web. 11 Apr. 2015. <http://www.ehow.com/info_8518280_three-prophecies-macbeth.html>
(4.1.68 - 124)
- The witches and their supernatural prophesies can be related to real world fortune tellers and their unexplainable "magic" which can be very misleading.
Again, we see that Macbeth is secretly being manipulated into his downfall.
A similar scenario may be identified in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

-When Edmund is misguided and tricked into betraying his own friends by the Snow Queen,
Macbeth is also mislead to his downfall by the witches.
- In Coraline by Neil Gaiman, the main character Coraline is deceived by supernatural forces including ghosts and omens into believing in a parallel reality. This is comparable to Macbeth's tragedies.
Macbeth Inspired Novels:
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Talented Mr.Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Discussion Questions:
Could the Banquo's ghost be Macbeth's own doppelgänger? Why or why not?
Are the witches truly the evil characters in the play, or is Macbeth himself the true villain?
Do you think that all the supernatural elements are in reality just Macbeth's own hallucinations?
Is justice served at the end of the play?
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