AQA LITB Section B Example Essay Supernatural in Macbeth

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Consider the role of the supernatural in Macbeth (20 minute essay)

Despite its historical non-conformance to the Gothic period, Shakespeare’s Macbeth strives to demonstrate extremes of emotion and the malevolent nature of mankind through elements of the supernatural. In a retrospective application of the gothic forms, the supernatural is inherent in the complexity and terror illicit in the play due to its functional role as a force of uncertainty. Significantly, within the first scene the audience is introduced to the witches and their rhetoric upon the "barren heath", “when the hurly-burly's done, when the battle’s lost and won”, perhaps an elusion to the ambiguous nightmarishness the play entails. To begin the play with such figures of uncertainty, in androgyny and metaphysicality, the witches serve to demonstrate and enforce the idea that the supernatural is not only incomprehensible to man, but serves as a higher order of nature, thus potentially possess foreknowledge of the future. A sense of ambiguity is addressed upon the witches introduction to Macbeth and Banquo; the “valiant” war heroes who describe the witches to have “seemed corporal” but to have “melted as breath into the wind”. The descriptors assigned to the witches is significant as they outline their function as an entity of metaphysicality and prediction; “weyard” women can be translated through Old English as ‘fate women’. Thus, when the women “place a fruitless crown” upon Macbeth, fooling his consciousness to follow their guidance and persuasion that he shall “be king hereafter”, the audience is revealed the function the supernatural ultimately serves;


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