The supernatural occurrences in Macbeth is the guiding force behind Macbeth’s actions and plays a significant part of the formation of the plot. The supernatural contributes to the plays suspense and dramatic tension.. The supernatural occurrences are shown in many forms; the witches,the floating dagger, Banquo’s ghost,, etc. These forces affect Macbeth’s character and influences Macbeth to make the decisions he made. The play opens with the verse of the witches and this foreshadows their supernatural influence at the centre of events. Macbeth’s first line, “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1.3.39) is a direct echo of the witches’ opening chant, “fair is foul and foul is fair” (1.1.11). According to Kranz, the effect of this echoing is “a close and unexplainable relationship between the main character and supernatural”(346). When Macbeth and Banquo encountered the witches, they prophesied that Macbeth will be promoted to Thane of Cawdor But not only that, they prophesied that he would become King of Scotland. The witches also told Banquo that his sons would be king. Macbeth was doubtful about the prophecies, but he started to believe these prophecies once King Duncan’s men came to inform Macbeth that he was to be named “Thane of Cawdor” due to the betrayal of the previous. If Macbeth didn’t know about this prophecy, he would have happily took his position of “Thane of Cawdor” but knowing he would be King led to his ambition making him do unspeakable things.
As Macbeth awaited to make his move, he sees a floating dagger and said “Thou marshal’st me the way that I was going; and such an instrument I was to use. Theres no such thing. It is the bloody business which forms” (Act 2, Scene 1). Here Macbeth begins to question whether his mind is playing tricks on him or if there is presence of evil that put the dagger which was covered in blood. This shows that there is interference of supernatural that leads Macbeth toward the Duncan’s chamber to do murder. The dagger symoolizes the point of no return for Macbeth. If he chooses the path in which the dagger leads, there will be no turning back. Altough the witches didn’t tell Macbeth to kill king Duncan all that necessary for him to commit murder was the suggestion of him being king, this goes to show that the play is shaped by the supernatural.
The witches also reveal ‘thou shalt get kings , though thou be none”(1.3.67)to Banquo. This leads to Macbeth fearing of him and considers him a threat since the witches told him his son would be king. This knowledge results in Macbeth’s sending his men to kill Banquo and his son. The prophecies of the witches are clearly an influence, and each prophecy foreshadows an event to come in the future.When Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost he is struck with fear and guilt. This supernatural event was a fragment of Macbeth’s imagination because he is the only one that sees Banquo’s ghost.This supernatural event changes Macbeth’s character because his sanity starts to deteriorate and makes him more guilty and it foreshadows his downfall as a tyrant.
The prophecies keep the audience and make them feel that some actions should be taken to make the prophecies come true. Fair instance in Act IV, scene 1 lines 78, 85-86 and 100 it prophesied that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth…Macbeth shall never vanquished be until great Birdnam wood reaches to hill Dunsinane hill”. When Macbeth hears about this prophecys he becomes confident and decided too kill macduff family. Macbeth would have never made this choice if he had not met with the witches.”the incidents that occured led to Macbeth’s downfall even though he made the decisions, the witches were well aware of what was going to happen’.(Cambell & Guinn).
When Shakespeare wrote his plays it was in a time where the supernatural was very common. Witches were a very natural and and frequent topic, they believed that good and bad spirits could take over your body and state of mind and influence you to commit acts that you would normally not do.The fact that shakespeare used the supernatural in his play really helped to shape the setting and the development of the characters and their conflicts which shaped the plot. Without the supernatural macbeth’s character and actions would have no justifications and would make him seem like his completely delusional.
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