Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth And Supernatural

Shakespeare: Macbeth

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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, specific scenes focus the readers’ attention to
the suspense and involvement of the supernatural. The use of witches,
apparitions and ghosts are an important element in making the play interesting.
Examining certain scenes of the play, it can be determined that as supernatural
occurrences develop, Macbeth reflects a darker self-image. Macbeth experiences
his first strange encounter of the supernatural when he meets the three witches
in act one, scene one. After learning of his prophecies to become king, Macbeth
states, “Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: The greatest is behind (still to
come).” (1.3.117-118). Shakespeare uses foreshadowing, a literary technique,
to suggest to his readers the character Macbeth will suffer a personality
change. Macbeth also implies his first notions of plotting an evil scheme by
this comment. After the prophecies of the witches revealed the fate of Macbeth,
the quest of the throne will be his next victory. “The witches reveal a fate
for Macbeth and imply that a part of what will come to him must come, but they
reveal no fate of evil-doing for him and never, even by suggestion, bind him to
evil doing. ”, states literary critic Willard Furnham. Furnham declares the
only power the witches obtain over Macbeth, is the power of insinuation. By
offering to Macbeth the idea of power, the witches push Macbeth to the next
level of greed and evil which was non-existent prior to the encounter. The
murder of King Duncan initiates Macbeth’s second encounter with the
supernatural when he witnesses a floating dagger. As Macbeth awaits the signal
to make his way up the stairs, he sees the floating dagger and proclaims, “
Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, fatal vision, sensible (able to be
felt) to feeling as to sight, or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false
creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (2.2.33-38). This
apparition confuses and frightens Macbeth. He can not comprehend how he can see
something and not be able to touch it. “Thou leads me the way I was going; and
such an instrument I was to use. And on thy blade and hilt, drops of blood which
was not so before. There’s no such thing. It is bloody business which takes
shape.” (2.2.43-49) Here, Macbeth begins to question whether his mind is
playing tricks on him. The situation seems quite coincidental considering he is
minutes from murdering a man with a similar weapon. He states the apparition is
due to the bloody business about to occur. The dagger symbolizes the point of no
return for Macbeth. If he chooses the path in which the dagger leads, there will
be no turning back. Macbeth fears Banquo for his prophecy is to father kings, so
Macbeth proceeds to plot the murder of his once friend, which spurs yet another
brush with the supernatural. Macbeth attends a banquet at which he witnesses the
ghost of his dead friend. (3.4.37-145) The fortunes of the three witches sparked
Macbeth’s desire to murder Banquo and caused him to dig himself into a deeper
hole. Macbeth’s guilt and fear combined drive him to darker and more evil
actions in an attempt to cover his past misdeeds. “What man dare, I dare.
Approach though like the rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros, or th’
Hyrcan tiger; Take any shape but that (Banquo) and my firm nerves shall never
tremble.” (3.4.100-104) Macbeth is terribly frightened by the bloody ghost
haunting him and is angered that the ghost revealed it self to him. His guilt
causes him to proclaim he could take on a rhino, tiger or any other wild animal,
but not Banquo’s ghost. After his encounter with the ghost, Macbeth proceeds
to visit the witches one last time to insure his security. After this last
visit, Macbeth becomes overconfident and a tyrant, which cause his downfall. The
use of supernatural in Macbeth, is a major factor in the suspenseful nature of
his work. Without the witches, apparitions and the ghost, Macbeth could not have
reached his downfall. The use of supernatural in Macbeth caused Macbeth to
become a darker and more evil person with each paranormal encounter.
Bibliography Farnham,Willard. "The Witches." 20th Century
Interpretations of Macbeth Ed. Terence Hawkes. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.,
1982 p.61-62
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