Macbeth Coursework. -Discuss the role of the witches and the effects of the supernatural element in the play “Macbeth”. One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays “Macbeth” was performed in the early 1600’s. The story was made to be shown in theatres and was performed countless of times to entertain. Macbeth is a Shakespearean tragedy, but it could also be argued it is similar to a Greek trudge. As opposed to Greek tragedies Shakespeare made their inner weakness of man visible to the audience in Macbeth. The play is famous for its themes such as supernatural, greed, disorder and ambition.
In the play the main character Macbeth went from Protagonist to antagonist which is unusual in most plays and story’s out. Shakespeare does this to show how the supernatural can affect you and turn a good, loyal, trustworthy person to bad. Witchcraft in Shakespearean times was an interesting issue which many people felt they were affected by. People believed in the supernatural very strongly and a majority of them were frightened of it, including the king at that time, king James of England. If people were found to be witches they were burnt alive.
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The play reinforces the view that people despised the witches and were scared of them as it shows the witches in a bad light and shows their evilness and what damage they could do. When the witches first appear the weather is dull and thundery. This was done to set an atmosphere and to show the witches are evil and sneaky. Macbeth meets the witches in a Barren Heath; this represents their position in society as a Barren Heath is an empty place in the middle of no-where which straight away makes the audience not trust them.
Magic was viewed by religious people in Shakespearean times as scary and powerful. People thought that magic and the supernatural were all linked to the devil, which is where the fear comes from. People were interested in magic but were very wary about the outcomes of it. Act one scene one is short, direct and build tension. The weather is thundery and dull which reflects with witchcraft and the chaos that the witches cause. The witches speak in Rhyme and couplets which again adds to the sense of supernatural.
The witches also speak in Oxymoron’s which we cannot understand them therefore we lose trust in them. The scene is quiet confusing for the audience which leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The witches are speaking about meeting Macbeth on a Barren Heath “upon the heath… There to meet with Macbeth. ” Straight away we question Macbeth and begin to wonder why they will be meeting him and what’s going to happen next. In act one scene two Duncan and other noble men are talking about the heroic actions of Macbeth and they paint a very positive picture of him. O Valliant cousin! Worthy gentleman. ” This creates a good picture of Macbeth to the audience and makes them think Macbeth is a worthy, trustful, noble gentleman. Shakespeare does this so that the audience get to know Macbeths character and to make us trust him so that we don’t expect him to turn to the evil side later on in the story like he does and it shocks us. In act one scene three we meet Macbeth we meet him upon a Barren Heat. The weather is thundery which sets a mysterious and dull atmosphere and also sets the scene for the witches.
When Macbeth and Banquo appear and see the witches, Banquo describes the witches as been “withered” & having “Skinny lips. ” This gives the reader a visual image inside their head of what the witches look like which is very effective. Macbeth and Banquo appear whilst the Witches are performing a spell. This shows the supernatural side of Macbeth especially as the witches are speaking in rhyming couplets. Also when Macbeth and Banquo appear it shows the witches power and again shows the supernatural side. The witches make predictions for both Macbeth and Banquo.
They both act like they do not believe what the witches have said and both agree to not speak of what happened and to forget it. A bit further on in the scene Macbeth speaks aside about what the witches had said. This shows us that Macbeth was interested in what the Witches had said and maybe even believed what they had said. Banquo is parallel to Macbeth and warns him of the witches. This makes Macbeth look bad for the first time to the reader as he begins to believe what the withes said. This gives the audience a sign that Macbeth was going to start being a bad person instead of what he was.
In act one scene five lady Macbeth summarizes Macbeth’s personality, suggesting he’s a very kind person. “Wouldst not play false, yet I do fear thy nature,” here lady Macbeth is saying how Macbeth would not play false but that she fears that he’s too nice and its going to hurt him one day. This is ironic as the audience has just seen Macbeth in a bad light and begin to wonder if Macbeth is slowly changing. In act one scene seven Macbeths ambition has taken over. Macbeth says how he has plans to kill the king. He says he would kill the King if there were no consequences. If th’ assassination could trammel up the consequences. ” This automatically shocks the audience as they Know Macbeth to be a nice, honest, trustworthy person. This also shows that the Witches prophesies have affected Macbeth and he has listened to them and this is why Macbeth is saying this It shows the supernatural powers can affect good normal people. In act two scene one Macbeth meets Banquo and Fleance. Banquo explains to Macbeth how he has dreamed about the witches. Macbeth try’s to act like he doesn’t care and he tell’s Banquo and Fleance he never thinks about them. I think not of them. ” This is dramatic irony for the reader as the reader knows he does think about them and wants to know what happened. It shows the witch’s prophesises have rushed to his head. Macbeth thinks he sees a dagger on the side. This shows he is guilty for his plans to kill the king. It also shows his mental state is in a bad way and also shows the supernatural effect on him which would likely scare the audience. In act three scene one Banquo begins to become suspicious of all the prophecies have come true.
We also notice that Macbeth before he had killed the king talked in verse which is a more dignified way of speaking which showed he had self respect. One Macbeth had killed the king it was like he had lost self respect as he begun to speak in prose which is slang, un-dignified way of speaking. This shows he seems to not care about his status or his role and shows that he has turned bad. The audience realise how much the prophecies have changed Macbeth. In act three scene four Macbeth is sat at the dinner table with his friends ; Lady Macbeth. He see’s Banquo’s ghost which is a very good supernatural effect used in the play.
The ghost is a symbol of guilt for Macbeth and shows that the death of Banquo has affected him mentally in a big way. “I am in blood,” Macbeth see’s himself in a pool of blood. At this stage Macbeth thinks he’s in controll of the witches, this shows how much he has changed from good to bad and also shows Macbeth was looking for evil beings. This shows the audience how much the supernatural can change a person. In act three scene five all the witches meet and talk about Macbeth. They are still continuing to plot against him this highlights there evilness and shows the audience just how bad the witches are.
It shows that Macbeth is dealing with such evil, capable, bad people. The leader of the witches directly refers to Macbeth which again shows how much he is involved with it all. In act four scene one the final meeting between Macbeth and the witches occur. The witches are describing horrible things. This was done to show the supernatural side of things and sets the atmosphere for what’s going to happen in the scene. The witches describe how they were putting a “Jew’s liver,” into the cauldron, this reflects society’s anti-Semitism of the time.
The witches are chanting with music at the beginning of the scene, this shows the witches are again mysterious and shows the supernatural effects that were used. Macbeth enters, as if the witches made him appear, which again shows the supernatural effects what the witches can do. This also shows the power that the witches have and shows it’s them that are in control rather than Macbeth. The witches warm him to be aware of Macduff so Macbeth decides to kill him. He doesn’t question what they say because he thinks they mean good and he thinks he has control over them.
Macbeth has gone from been so loved to been hated by lots of people. In act five scene three Macbeth is attacked but he feels unbeatable as the witches had told him he couldn’t be beaten by anybody born women. However the audience know that Macduff was not born naturally and was born by Ceserian. In act five scenes seven everybody knows that Macbeth is evil. In scene five scene seven Macduff refers to Macbeth as being a “Hell being,” whereas earlier he called him “Valliant ; Brave” which is a huge contrast between them and shows how much he has changed & become evil and how much other people can see it aswell.
The audience are repeatedly reminded how much the supernatural has effects him. The witches show us how people can easily be tempted and how different people react to situations in different ways like Macbeth and Banquo. The witches played many different roles for example entertainment kept the play moving in the right places and represented evil and temptations. The witches also represented potential for evil influence. The witches bring disorder to show that the supernatural can cause allot of badness. The witches are a symbol of inner battle of human nature between good and bad evil.
People argue that the witches choose to only make Macbeth evil. However I think that the same thing happened to both Banquo and Macbeth and it was how they choose to deal with the situation which depended on what happened in their life. The message of the play is to not be selfish and knock other people down to advantage yourself as it could come back and hit you in the face. The message is still relevant today as there are still people in our society today that put themselves in similar situations like this and forgot that their actions and words effects the people around them in a big way.