Macbeth: How do you respond to the view that the supernatural elements in Macbeth represent Macbeth’s own struggles?

  • Created by: Alessia
  • Created on: 16-04-13 22:50
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  • How do you respond to the view that the supernatural elements in Macbeth represent Macbeth’s own struggles?
    • 'supernatural' refers to things that cannot be explained by natural or physical laws. The presence of supernatural forces in "Macbeth," provides for much of the play's dramatic tension and the mounting suspense.
    • The supernatural reflected the atmosphere and the beliefs of Scotland and much of Europe in the sixteenth century. Macbeth is a story that is completely engulfed with supernatural elements. It is more a supernatural story than it is drama. 
    • Three hideous witches, a floating dagger and apparitions are all supernatural elements that the reader finds in Macbeth these elements are major causes of Macbeth’s path of ambition, murder madness and his ultimate downfall. All this shows that Macbeth is highly dependent and seduced by the supernatural.
    • The opening scene of Macbeth begins with the three witches meeting on the heath and describing the atmosphere, where Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Act 1 scene 1). 
    • Another supernatural element that Shakespeare uses in the play represents Macbeth’s guilt and beginning of his madness is through the floating daggers in Act 2, which occur in Macbeth’s own home whilst King Duncan was guest. Macbeth questions if the dagger is real or “a dagger of the mind, a false creation” (Act 2 scene 1), in other words it is a hallucination. This dagger makes it so Macbeth cannot resist killing Duncan. It also brings the supernatural from outside to inside the castle.
    • Shakespeare uses the influence of apparitions twice in his story. One of the apparitions is of the recently murdered Banquo. This ghost visits Macbeth at the banquet right after Macbeth learns that Banquo’s death was successfully committed by one of the hired murders
    • The witches conjure up three apparitions. All of these apparitions give Macbeth a sense of overconfidence which untimely leads to his downfall. It can be seen that the supernatural has a great influence on Macbeth’s rise to power and his fall from power. 
      • We see that his growing obsessive reliance on the witches’ prophesies causes him over confidence which leads to his ultimate demise. 
      • We also see Macbeth descend into evil and being seduced by the supernatural, by having supernatural events change location. All of these elements show the causes of Macbeth’s path of ambition, murder, madness and finally his total self-destruction
    • Conclude using one point and explain that is was because of the supernatural that Macbeth ended up deciding his own fate and faced the struggles along the way.


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