Supernatural in Macbeth
The supernatural element is present in most plays that were written during Shakespeare’s time and everyone found it to be fascinating. It is from this usage of supernatural element that it was noted that it represented things that were “above nature”; things were in existence, but they were not part of the normal human life and it was difficult to explain them. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, supernatural has been used to enhance suspense and thrill, provide insight to the character and help in foreseeing future events. It also plays a role in making connections to the theme as well. When reading the play, we get introduced to the supernatural world in various ways. The three witches reveal Macbeth’s fate to him something that awakens his ambitions which results in his demise. The witches are the sources of bad thoughts and temptations in the play, which originates from their supernatural powers to manipulate Macbeth’s features. It is from this manipulation that they indirectly lead Macbeth to hallucinations of the dagger and Banquo’s ghost as reminder of his punishment. Throughout the play, the connections between the natural universe and that of Macbeth are well established. Macbeth disrupts nature unnaturally through various actions.
The voice of unnaturalness in “Macbeth” is represented by the three witches and their description as weird sisters in the first scene of the play foreshadows the mischievousness that will result in the play. The witches are portrayed in an odd image where Banquo describes them as “withered” and “wild in their attires” and through his comments on their “beards”. Consequently, Shakespeare portrays them as speaking in short rhyming verses different from those of other characters in the play who speak in blank verses. The manner in which the witches speak portrays the casting of a spell and carries the super naturalness in their speeches. The witches also act as the instrument of bad forces whose objective is to lead Macbeth from the good path and tempts him to achieve his ambitions through dubious means. The witches do not interpret their prophecies to Macbeth but he interprets them by himself thus he is responsible for his actions.
The treatment of the supernatural is also demonstrated through the confusion in the natural universe and Macbeth’s unnatural acts. The manner in which the expected natural order is altered is as a result of the evil forces that are unleashed by Macbeth in order to fulfil the prophecies of the witches through brutal methods. This is demonstrated in his own character, nature and society. As we read through the play, we are told in the conversation between Ross and the Old Man, that day was replaced by night while Duncan’s horses have turned wild and have eaten each other. We are also told that, that day an owl had killed a falcon. Weather is a good symbol that demonstrates the link between the natural and supernatural. Stormy weather is always incorporated with the appearances of the witches in the society.
The hallucinations experienced by Macbeth acts as a reminder of his growing evil and his guiltiness of the crimes that he has committed. When Macbeth was going to commit the regicide, he is faced with a vision of a glittering dagger which is splashed with blood. He terms it as a “fatal vision” which leaves him speculating whether it is a “dagger of the mind” resulting from his oppressed mind. The dagger symbolizes the dark path that Macbeth was taking. It was not the only reason why Duncan was murdered but it also reinforced his action plan and demonstrates how the supernatural manipulated him to kill Duncan.
Banquo’s ghost acts as reminder Macbeth’s guiltiness and how he feared people discovering his actions but a shocking reality to him. This is important because it signifies the turning point of Macbeth’s reign as a King. He is tormented by his own conscience which shows him all the crimes he has committed and forces him to face them. However, despite this terrifying reality revealing itself to him, he realizes that he cannot escape his troubled society but to destroy anyone who proves to be a threat to him. This new conscience in him forces him to kill Lady Macduff and her son.
Lady Macbeth’s monologue before the death of Duncan explores the nature of supernatural especially the evil spirits. It can be said that Lady Macbeth was possessed by evil spirits because she calls them to “unsex her” something that is inhuman. This is an indication that Lady Macbeth is controlled by supernatural powers that have mastered her mind and soul. As we read through the play, we see her seeing visions and sleep walking. It is arguable whether this is the power of supernatural forces or not. When she is sleep walking, she imagines that her hand is stained in blood and cannot be washed off. Although many can argue that this is not the power of evil spirits, it is the power of supernatural forces that makes her to see all these visions while sleepwalking.
The nature of supernatural is presented in various levels by Shakespeare in the play with the three witches taking a predominant and significant position. They are described as “weird sisters” who dictated the eventualities of the play through malicious methods. In order to achieve their objectives in the natural world, they chose Macbeth to be a tool of fulfilling their prophecies. Therefore, it is correct to say that the witches were unable to realize their objectives in the natural universe and they required a tool that was easy to manipulate. Macbeth became in handy. Throughout the play, Macbeth is presented with various situations with the witches only provided him with possible outcomes though they never gave him any surety of such outcomes. Therefore, it was the responsibility of Macbeth to interpret them. The three witches revealed Macbeth’s fate to him something that drove him to the path of terror. As a consequence to his actions, the natural order of the universe is disrupted. His hallucinations and those of Lady Macbeth is a reminder of his guilty conscience for the crimes that he has committed. Lady Macbeth calls upon the evil spirits to change her gender so that she can commit the crimes herself.