The Forces of Evil and the Supernatural Are Dominant in the Play Macbeth

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ciaramckenna95
Words 1531
Pages 7
The forces of evil and the supernatural are dominant in the play Macbeth

Without a doubt, There are many forces of evil and the supernatural to be seen in the tragic play Macbeth. It is obvious that these forces are dominant in the play as they play a vital role in the plot and they appear continuously throughout the play, but they do not dominate the play, as good wins out over evil in the end. These forces can be seen as characters, as apparitions, as actions and also in the language of the play. The most powerful and manipulative force of evil comes from the supernatural characters of the “weird sisters” or the three witches. Immediately in the opening scene we are introduced to them. It is clear that they will play a major role in the play. They speak in riddles “fair is foul and foul is fair…” and they cast an ominous tone over the entire play. The dramatic opening with thunder and lightning emphasises their evil nature. The witches are the embodiment of pure motiveless evil. They are immediately associated with the worst evil of all, the devil, by Banquo, “what! Can the devil speak true?” The witches are vital to the play because they are the ones who stoked the fires of Macbeth’s ambition, without them there would be no play, as Macbeth would never have committed regicide without their influence. Macbeth is immediately associated with the witches in his first line, which echoes the witches line, “so foul and fair a day I have not seen.” The witches’ power is strong, they can control the weather at will and it has even been suggested that they can fly, “hover through the fog and filthy air“, but they are very spiteful and malevolent beings. After one of the witches was insulted by a woman, she cursed the woman’s husband “he shall live a man forbid.” The high witch,…...

Similar Documents

Nature in Macbeth

...In different periods of time, the lives of humans and nature were thought to have a connection, and this is emphasized in William Shakespeare's play MacBeth. In this play, unnatural events in nature foreshadow bad or unnatural occurrences in the lives of humans. Through out the play, Shakespeare continuously proves this point. When Ross said "As sparrows eagles or the hare the lion" (I.ii.35), it proves this theory. Common knowledge says that sparrows do not classify as eagles does a hare classify as a lion. They may have similarities, such as they are both birds or mammals, but they are opposites. After the quote is spoken, Ross reveals that the Thane of Cawdor has betrayed his country and Macbeth shall take his place. Macbeth becoming the Thane of Cawdor was an unusual event and not expected. When Macbeth finds the dagger in front of him, it alludes to this point even more. The foreshadowing of Macbeth's choice becomes evident when he says, "Nature seems dead" (II.i.50) For nature to seem dead would be the complete opposite of living because nature is thought to be continuously growing and changing, not dying. This is an unnatural event, that again foreshadows something bad, which is Duncan's death. Other unnatural occurrences happened prior to Duncan's death but were not explained until afterwards. When the old man says "'Tis unnatural / Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last A falcon tow'ring in her pride of place, was by a mousing hawk......

Words: 1967 - Pages: 8

The Supernatural in Macbeth

...Shakespeare’s Macbeth is regarded as a tragedy. It is considered one not because of Macbeth’s ruthless killings of innocent victims, but because it portrays Macbeth’s transformation from a brave, dutiful soldier, to a backstabbing, greedy villain. It is all thanks to the three witches, who ruin Macbeth with their snippets of lies and truth. The presence of the witches adds a supernatural tone to the tale and is the crucial factor influencing Macbeth’s actions, and therefore, the storyline. The three mysterious beings can be accredited with telling Macbeth their prophecies, making him see Banquo’s ghost, as well as making him see the three apparitions. At the very beginning of the story, Macbeth would never think of wronging his king in any way. He is a loyal general and is perfectly content with his position of Thane of Glamis. Upon meeting the witches for the first time, he hears their three prophecies. The last statement, “All hail Macbeth, thou shalt be king thereafter!”(I, iii,), seems so unrealistic that he almost immediately dismisses it from his memory. However, it is just enough to tip him over the edge. It plants a seed of doubt in his mind, and more and more, Macbeth finds himself thinking about what it means. That little sentence is what ultimately causes Macbeth, along with Lady Macbeth, to corrupt and murder his beloved King Duncan. Macbeth also learns from the witches that Banquo “shall get kings, though [he] be none”(I, iii,). This leads to......

Words: 733 - Pages: 3

Macbeth

...Macbeth Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is considered as one of his most powerful and darkest tragedies. The play dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political effects when evil is chosen as a way to fulfill the ambition for power. The tragedy of Macbeth tells a story about two Scottish generals, Macbeth and Banqou, who are met by three witches after a victorious battle against an army of rebels. Macbeth receives a prophecy from these foretellers that one day he will be king of Scotland and Banqou the father of many kings. Macbeth is powerfully influenced by their words, and the encouragement given by his wife’s actions, he is persuaded to murder King Duncan and take the throne for himself. Macbeth is now the most powerful man in the kingdom, but he feels his position insecure, and suspects those around him. This leads him to the murder of Banqou, whose ghost haunts him. He is then tormented with guilt and paranoia, and soon he becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more and more murders in order to protect himself from suspicion and enmity. During Macbeth’s and the witches’ second encounter, the witches warn him against the nobleman Macduff, but nevertheless persuade him to go on by telling him that “none of woman born” can defeat him. Macduff has meanwhile gone to England to help in collecting an army to attack Macbeth, and in his absence, his family is murdered by order of Macbeth. In the meantime Lady Macbeth, who was so......

Words: 1165 - Pages: 5

Macbeth Is the Most Interesting Character in the Play Macbeth

...“The most interesting character in Macbeth is Macbeth himself.” Do you agree? Why? Macbeth is a complex and well developed character, while there are several interesting characters in the play, Macbeth is by far the most interesting. He is a tragic hero who experiences a slow and painful mental decline which is expressed in such a way that the audience is mesmerised. The most interesting aspect of Macbeth’s character is that it is flawed. The audience can identify with his human frailties. Despite the fact that Macbeth commits evil and is drawn to the successes he thinks evil can provide him, one can tell he has goodness in him. Shakespeare reveals Macbeth’s moral development through the use of symbolism in the soliloquys which portray how Macbeth feels yet would not be able to admit to others; “The prince of Cumberland! That is a step in which I must fall down, or o’erleap for in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires; let light not see my black and deep desires. The eye wink at the hand yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done to see.” This soliloquy demonstrates his inner human feelings of desire for the position of king. His conscience cannot even let his eyes see the deed his hands commit. This demonstrates how unfit he is to commit such a wicked deed. Macbeth’s soliloquys are able to help the audience understand Macbeth better and relate to him well. The audience doesn’t view Macbeth as an evil villain because the audience sees his guilt through the......

Words: 882 - Pages: 4

Macbeth Questions

...not be king, his sons will be and that in turn poses a threat to Macbeth and soon, his kingship. Because the witches’ prophecy about Macbeth becoming king came true, he questions whether they were going to be right about Banquo and his legacy. Although, Macbeth in this scene is too worried, he does not realize that he was the one who fundamentally caused the series of events to occur after killing King Duncan. Banquo might decide to keep the information he learned from the witches to himself because if he spoke up people might think that he was a part of Kind Duncan’s murder, because they may believe that he did this just to become king. Also, he probably does not want to sabotage his chances of his sons becoming kings if someone else finds out. 2. Macbeth might be curious about where Banquo is going because he wants to keep an eye on Banquo for two reasons. One reason being that he wants to kill him so that his sons are not the reason that he loses his thrown. He uses this as a safety mechanism and later on in the act we find out that Macbeth hires three murders to kill Banquo in order to carry out his plan of staying king. He also wants to keep an eye on Banquo so that way he does not find out that he was the one who killed King Duncan for the thrown. Banquo may have already been suspicious of the murder because he was with Macbeth and heard the witches’ prophecies. 3. The “bloody cousins” as referred to Macbeth in line 29 are Duncan’s sons. They are the ones that the......

Words: 2793 - Pages: 12

Macbeth

...ENGLISH ESSAY: MACBETH “Macbeth shows us a world blackened by selish desires.” In life, we are often oblivious and undermine the power of evil as we aren’t directly exposed to the dangers and destructive consequences at first. We are presented with this same idea in the tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Macbeth’s progression and transformation throughout the play demonstrates and a world blackened by selfish desires. Macbeth at the beginning of the play is shown to be a friendly, honest and loyal person. But later, manipulation and deception as well as lust and greed mould Macbeth in to an aggressive, ambitious and possessed man. Finally, through his transformations we are able to identify a world blackened by selfish desires. Macbeth at the beginning of the play is shown to be a friendly, honest and loyal character. Shakespeare demonstrates Macbeth's loyalty to his king and to Scotland as the Captain recalls, "brave Macbeth killed [Macdonald]." Macbeth is well respected by his peers and maintains good relationships with them and is willing and committed to acting to protect Scotland. Furthermore, we are introduced to Macbeth by Malcom in act one scene two as a “good and hardy soldier” further highlighting his brave and courageous nature. On a different level, Macbeth shows he is a loving and respectful character in his attitude and approach towards his wife as he calls her his “dearest partner of greatness.” Additionally, we are able to measure the strength of......

Words: 742 - Pages: 3

Macbeth

...Shakespeare in Film Individual Assignment Macbeth is well known to be one of Shakespeare’s shortest yet darkest tragedies. The rich, psychological turmoil experienced by the main characters and the incorporation of elements such as the supernatural culminates in a tragedy that is one of Shakespeare’s most intense and grim. I will be examining the 1971 Roman Polanski film due to the unique life story of the director and the gruesome murders that occurred prior to the film. The film employs the use of gratuitous violence, nudity and graphic imagery that far exceeds that of the text, which Roman Polanski masterfully uses to highlight the inherent madness and evil that drives Macbeth and in doing so, successfully creates an psychologically disturbing film with an atmosphere of perpetual dread. Firstly, one distinct feature about the film that differs from the text is the inclusion of nudity seen in several scenes. Macbeth itself draws largely upon the theme of the occult and madness as the main driving forces, with the inclusion of the prophetic apparitions, visions of ghosts and mental breakdowns. The scene showing Macbeth seeks out the witches for the 2nd time exemplifies the occult brilliantly as it opens to a huge coven of naked witches huddled around the cauldron whilst chanting “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, cauldron bubble”. In the book, there was no mention of other witches apart from the three and by including the scene, the huge gathering...

Words: 1232 - Pages: 5

Is Macbeth an Evil Villain or Simply a Tragic Hero?

...Is Macbeth an evil villain or simply a tragic hero? What makes a character a true tragic hero? All tragic heroes have the same qualities; an honorable person who is doomed for a tragic downfall; the situation usually makes them suffer and feel guilty. Would Macbeth be considered an evil villain or noble man? Throughout the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, it is clear to see that Macbeth is a man who was influenced by the wrong people, and completely driven to have success. Could the drive to success make a person so morally wrong? How could the favorable Macbeth take such an awful turn for defeat? Macbeth is the perfect example of a true tragic hero; possessing great nobility that came crashing down at the hands of his peers, and the single tragic flaw of ambition. The first time the reader was introduced to the character Macbeth, it would be impossible to think he could turn out to be so morally imperfect. For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor’s minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave; Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops, And fixed his head upon our battlement (Shakespeare 1.2.16-23). When the caption is talking about Macbeth, it was obvious to understand that Macbeth was a brave and a courageous fighter; he was explained to be a hero very quickly in the beginning.......

Words: 1592 - Pages: 7

“Unnatural Deeds Do Breed Unnatural Troubles”: the Supernatural and the Natural Order in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth

...“Unnatural Deeds Do Breed Unnatural Troubles”: The Supernatural and the Natural Order in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth In order to assimilate into the worlds of William Shakespeare’s most enthralling tragedies, entirely coherent atmospheres must be accommodated. Hamlet and Macbeth each introduce a spectrum of radical physical and metaphysical concepts which allow audiences the opportunity to understand the fabric of the universe as being much more tightly woven than previously conceivable. One of Shakespeare’s great consummations as a writer is explaining supposed and naturally occurring phenomena during a time when people readily accepted the existence of supernatural beings without reasoning or understanding. Each of the plays begins with a paranormal occurrence, delivered in the form of a ghost and a threesome of witches respectively. Shakespeare uses the shocking unrealism of such occurrences to illustrate disturbances to natural order. Specifically, Hamlet and Macbeth showcase the supernatural to convey nature’s innate responsiveness to human immorality. Prior to examining the crude repercussions of immorality, natural law and conscience must be traced in accordance with Hamlet and Macbeth to distinguish evil deeds from justifiable human action. Conscience is an awareness of a natural order which gives life significance and purpose under a natural law. The mind is compelled to seek out rationality and organization provided by such a natural order. Shakespeare’s......

Words: 1769 - Pages: 8

Macbeth from Good to Evil

...From Good to Evil The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces. Macbeth is first introduced as a war hero, and the thane of Glamis, a nobleman who Duncan, the King of Scotland, speaks very highly of. Macbeth is a courageous Scottish general who is not naturally disposed to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, it is evident how influences like Lady Macbeth, the witches and fate push Macbeth into committing evil acts. In the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth is told he would be Thane of Cawdor and then eventually become king. After becoming Thane of Cawdor shortly following the execution of the previous Thane, one prophecy lingered in Macbeth’s mind, becoming King of Scotland, which was impossible for as long as Duncan lived. Macbeth has the thought of becoming ruler but the idea of murdering his King was never the plan, “That tears shall drown the wind. / I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / and falls on th’ other” (I. vii. 25-28). However, his wife, Lady Macbeth, makes it known to Macbeth that the only way he would become king is to murder Duncan, and does so by accusing him of being a coward: From this time Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valor As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, And...

Words: 808 - Pages: 4

Macbeth

...The story Macbeth is like no other in plot and poetry. It sets itself apart from the rest by having a protagonist becoming evil. What makes Macbeth such a complicated character is the way his outlook keeps on changing throughout the play. This essay will prove that Macbeth is an evil man and was not overpowered by ambition to get what he wanted. This essay will also determine that certain characters like the witches did not force him to do evil; they simply triggered it. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is shown as a hero in the Scottish army that is ironic because Macbeth has defeated a traitor and he will become one. We feel that a person of his loyalty could never commit evil unless he had a good reason or if he would be provoked. After Macbeth's first meeting with the witches, we learn from his aside that he has thought about killing Duncan " My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical" 1(Macbeth 1.3.152). Macbeth also says " If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir." 2(Macbeth 1.4.157-159) which means that maybe he does not have to murder the king to gain that title. Luck has been very generous to him and might continue and make him king. Macbeth's true evil thoughts about being king are first shown when he finds out that king Duncan has named his son Malcolm as Prince of Cumberland. He now shows his evil and his true feelings. " Stars, hide your fires; Let not night see my black and deep desires. ......

Words: 955 - Pages: 4

What Part Does the Supernatural Play in Macbeth?

...What part does the supernatural play in Macbeth? The word supernatural is defined as ‘Not being able to be explained by the laws of nature’. The majority of us would link the word supernatural to ghosts and paranormal activities, which these days can be proved by using complex technology. However if we look back at Shakespeare’s era in around 1606 the majority of the people there completely believed in the supernatural. Their main belief was that witches existed and had great power to change what ever they wanted. It was believed so much in this time that even King James believed that these supernatural beings existed. Although nowadays it is completely the opposite, most of us believe that these supernatural beings are just mythological. The play Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare during the time that probably he himself and the rest of the population believed in the supernatural, it includes several supernatural events and the general atmosphere is a sinister one. The very first part of the play Macbeth includes three witches other wise described by Shakespeare as the weird sisters. These three witches plan to meet Macbeth upon a heath in the storm which is surrounding them. The effect of this automatically gives the reader the feeling that the play is a sinister one. The witches communicate to each other by speaking in riddles, such as “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. We learn two things from this first part of speech from the witches, firstly we can see......

Words: 1804 - Pages: 8

To Waht Extent Is Masculinity Associated with Evil and Violence in Macbeth?

...To what extent is masculinity associated with evil and violence in Macbeth? Evil is a theme widely explored by Shakespeare in his plays and “Macbeth” is no exception. This play demonstrates violence in relation to evil and evil in turn is a reflection of the desperation and anxieties of the characters in “Macbeth.” The question of whether masculinity is associated with evil and violence is easily answered as the main character in this horrific tragedy is Macbeth himself, who commits a range of heinous crimes from murder to dabbling with witchcraft. However, the extent to which masculinity is related to evil is more obscure. In this essay I am going to show that evil and violence in “Macbeth” is not monopolised by masculine characters. To show this I will be analysing female characters who demonstrate strong evil qualities and personalities such as Lady Macbeth, The Witches and Hecate. I will also discuss Banquo, Macduff and King Duncan because these characters represent chivalry, nobility and honour of human characters, even though they are male. The first character I will be looking at is Macbeth himself. This is because he is the central character and focus of the entire play. From the outset Macbeth is depicted as a fierce war hero: “Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements.” (Act 1: Scene 1: Lines 22 – 23) The captain using......

Words: 2680 - Pages: 11

Discuss the Extent to Which Macbeth and Shylock Are Victims and Villains

...Discuss the extent to which Macbeth and Shylock are victims and villains The protagonists of each play, Macbeth and Shylock, both fall victim and succumb to villainous natures, however a difference is apparent between the two in representing these traits. Macbeth more so displays villainous behaviours, whereas Shylock is subjected to ordeals which victimise him. That is not to say that Macbeth does not become victimised, and that Shylock does not contain the capability to carry out acts of a villainous essence, such as going against his faith for power, and losing sense of morality and rationality. Different factors such as race and prejudice are integral to the contextual themes of The Merchant of Venice as anti-Semitic views towards Jews are upheld by the Christians in Venice, placing Shylock in a position of submission and awakening his inner villain, which is the ultimate point of differentiation between the two in terms of being either a villain or a victim. Early in Macbeth it becomes apparent that the witches have corrupted Macbeth, thus falling victim to the supernatural. This causes him to conjure questions, "Why do I yield to that suggestion?", which catalyses a rising action. The word 'suggestion' connotes the idea is being fed to him via a supernatural force, and that it is uncontrollable as he 'yields' to it. "My thought, whose murder is fantastical, shakes my state", emphasises how much Macbeth is against the idea of murder, shining light on how these......

Words: 2082 - Pages: 9

Shakespeare’s the Tempest, Hamlet, and Macbeth

...The Role of Magic in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Hamlet, and Macbeth     Like many other themes, magic and supernatural elements play a large role in many of Shakespeare’s works.  The use of magic interests the audience, plays to the imagination, and adds dramatic intrigue to the story, even when the rest of the plot is comprised of believable events.  These themes are most prominent in The Tempest, Hamlet, and Macbeth.  In each of these plays, magic and supernatural occurrences not only play a large role in the plot, but also help to communicate various messages and literary value.  Shakespeare utilizes magic and supernatural happenings in both positive and negative lights, depending on the purpose it serves in each of the mentioned plays.  It is seen as a decision maker, nature, a prophet, a symbol of fate, and an equalizer.  Regardless of its specific role in each play and its positive or negative depiction, it serves to move the plot forward through a force which acts beyond the capabilities and power of man, even man himself did conjure it.     In The Tempest, we see an example of supernatural power conjured or exercised by man.  Prospero, the wielder of this magic, uses magic as a means to set right that which was, in his opinion, wrong in his life and in the universe.  In this play, we see magic used as an equalizer.  Prospero uses his learned sorcery to reverse all of the supposedly false or unlawful happenings in his life, apparently feeling that these things......

Words: 1605 - Pages: 7