The Supernatural Aspects of Macbeth
What are the main sources of evil in the play? How does Shakespeare get this across to an audience?
The witches are the main evil in the play even though they only appear 4 times in the story, but each time they appear they always create an evil atmosphere. When I say 'the main evil in the play' this is my opinion, I feel they are the main because they are pure evil incarnate and they are what trigger the whole thing off. I feel when Shakespeare wrote Macbeth he meant it to be on two levels, one level being that the witches are real and there to be seen, this was for the less educated. The other level being that the witches are just a figment of his imagination or hallucinations as he does go on to hallucinate later on in the play when he says "Is this a knife I see before me…" he sees a knife covered in blood also Banqouos ghost could also be a hallucination as his guilty conscience gets to him for killing his best friend. Shakespeare makes a clever choice in putting the witches in to the play, because without them 'Macbeth' would be about a man who thought he could be king and went around slaughtering people to get to where he wanted to be. It still would have been a play but it wouldn't have been as good because the spooky, eerie effect wouldn't have been created.
The old hags are supposedly really ugly, as Banquo says in 'Act 1 Scene 3' "so withered, and so wild in their attire, that look not like th'inhabintants o'th'earth, and yet are on't? Live you? Or are you aught that man may question? You seem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying upon her skinny lip: You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so." This suggests that they are old, wrinkly hags with beards, which are not nice things to see. In a way you could call them freaks, and people are afraid of freaks. They've got strange powers and can tell the future as they predict that Macbeth will be king and that a man born of a woman cannot kill him, these are the powers that give us the creeps and create a supernatural presence. Hecate is the head of the witches she is the boss witch or goddess of the underworld as she calls herself; she controls the spirits and is like something out of a nightmare.
Shakespeare succeeded in frightening his audience as they were great believers in the supernatural and so when the witches are making a potion round the cauldron and through things in such as toad, "liver of a blaspheming Jew, nose of Turk and Tartars lips," the audience would have been more scared than we are now as they believed that these things really happened (it's a wonder how Shakespeare himself was never accused of being a male witch as he describes things so vividly. It's as if he had done these things himself, or seen them done.) Another thing they do that is shocking was when they make the three apparitions appear out of the cauldron and tell Macbeth half-truths about his future. It isn't just the fact that they make three spirits appear it's the fact of what the apparitions are. One is of a bloody child the other an armed head and the last a child crowned with a tree in his hand. The sprits that appear from the cauldron are the witches' masters and each has warning or prophecy for Macbeth. The armed head warns Macbeth of Macduff by saying "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth: Beware Mucduff, Beware of Thane of Fife: dismiss me. Enough." The seconded apparition is of a bloody child, said to be more potent than the first said by one of the witches, it tells Macbeth "Be bloody, bold, and resolute: Laugh to scorn the power of man: for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." This is another half truth as Macbeth is killed in the end by Macbeth wasn't given birth to; his mother had had a cesarean. The third and final spirit is of a child crowned, with a tree in his hand, It tells Macbeth "Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care: Who chafes, who frets, or...
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