Shakespeare and other people during that time believed in the supernatural and were very weary about it. They wrote books on witches, demons, and eventually held trials for witches. Shakespeare incorporated their beliefs into Macbeth. In Macbeth, the supernatural is a force guiding Macbeth’s actions and is creating hallucinations, which is why he is not responsible for his actions. The supernatural is a very important subject in “Macbeth”. “Macbeth” is full of important supernatural elements that made the play more eerie and modern. From witches to floating daggers and apparitions, the supernatural was something that they believed highly in.
Out of all the supernatural elements they believed in, witches seemed to be the most popular. James the king of Scotland wrote a book about witches called “Daemonology, he stated that “witches were thought to be agents of the devil who used prophecies to tempt faith and virtue”(King James. Daemonology. 1597). People thought witches used their abilities to harm and destroy virtuous people. Shakespeare used that thought to show how the witches would trick and deceive people. When the witches are first seen they are talking about where the will go to meet Macbeth. The witches then utter their famous line “fair is foul, and foul is fair”(1.1.11). When the witches meet Macbeth they used “prophecies” to trick Macbeth into falling under their spell. The witches tell Macbeth:
“All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.”(1.3.48-50).
By telling these prophecies to Macbeth, they put a spell like trance on him. Macbeth fell into the witches trap by listening and believing the prophecies. The way the witches tricked Macbeth it shows that the witches don’t care for humans but enjoy tricking and torturing them. Witches in the supernatural are known to be “particularly active during stormy weather.”(1.1.notes), which is why they’re only seen in dark or rainy times throughout the play. In act 3 scene 5, the witches are talking to Hecate, the ruler of the witches. Hecate is angry when she first appears, she thinks that the witches aren’t doing their jobs correctly. Hecate was forming a plan to cause Macbeth’s downfall. Besides the witches, Macbeth starts to have hallucinations, like the floating dagger.
In the first scene of act 2 we see Macbeth have his first hallucination, “Is this a dagger which I see before me?”(2.1.33). Macbeth saw the dagger when he was thinking about what the witches told him and what his wife wanted him to do. When Macbeth sees the dagger he starts to question its existence, he can see it but he can not touch it. Macbeth realizes that he is going crazy and seeing things but chooses to follow the dagger. As Macbeth follows the dagger it leads him to Duncan’s tent and where he then murders Duncan while he is sleeping. This hallucination was possibly a form of guilt that is soon to come from Macbeth. At the same time we see that the dagger is evil and pushes Macbeth to kill Duncan. After Macbeth kills Duncan he seeks out the witches who call upon their “masters”.
When Macbeth seeks out the witches for more prophecies they start to deceive him more than before. Alexander Leggatt states that in act 4 the witches refer to “our masters” (4.1.63) who turn out to be the apparitions (1). When the witches call upon their “masters”, apparitions appear to Macbeth giving him more prophecies. The apparitions tell Macbeth:
“First Apparition: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.Second Apparition: Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn. The power of a man, for none of women born, shall harm Macbeth.
Third Apparition: Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care. Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are; Macbeth shall never be vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” (4.1.71-94)
When the apparitions told Macbeth the prophecies he thought he would never die. Out of insanity he killed Macduff’s family. In the end Macduff kills Macbeth after he tells Macbeth that he was removed not born. By listening to what the witches told Macbeth he fell under a trance that led him to his death.
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