Witchcraft, Murder and Ghosts in Macbeth A notable point within Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is the use of the three witches in the opening scene. The number of witches for a contemporary audience can go unnoticed. However in the time that Shakespeare the symbolic meaning of the number three was important, as it symbolized unluckiness and when remembering the fear of the unnatural and being unlucky (epitomized by such historical events as the rage of witch trials within Britain). This is not the only symbolism within the play, the use of the disparity between light and dark is an important concept. We can perhaps see the parallel between the horror movies of today, and the images of witchcraft, murder and ghosts of the past. …show more content…
The number three also came up in other contexts. Porter: "... drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things." (II,iii,23) On the surface, the porter's statement may seem like nonsense from a drunken fool, giving the play a brief break from the dark nature of the act, but one can read into the statement further. In this scene, Shakespeare is taking pains to remind us through his combination of the number three and drinking that drunkenness plays a major role in the events of the act that unfold. For example, Lady Macbeth: "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold, What hath quench'd them hath given me fire." (II,ii,1-2) As aforementioned the symbolism in the play includes that of both light and darkness. Macbeth's insomnia resulting from the pressing guilt and Lady Macbeth's nocturnal excursions while asleep are examples. Macbeth was unable to hide in the dark from the horrors of his deeds and he was haunted by the fear of discovery. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, was afraid of the dark and was using the light in an attempt to dispel her demons. Doctor: "How came she by that light?" Gentlewoman: "Why, it stood by her: she has light by her continually; 'tis her command." (V,i,24-25) Furthermore Shakespeare uses sunlight and darkness in contrast to intensify our understanding of his guilt. Old Man: "Threescore and ten I can remember well;
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Women (according to Shakespearean times) were supposed to be fragile, weak, and feminine; however, Lady Macbeth is vicious, cruel, and masculine in the play. Lady MacBeth becomes the prime mover and instigator in the entire regicide business. Revealing that she wishes to depart her feminine traits, because being a female makes her weaker, foreshadows Lady Macbeth's future actions. She has no intention of waiting for a chance of crown and prefers to take a speedy and violent action. Lady MacBeth is ambitious, driven, and full of the dark spirits. Fearing MacBeth's nature “of the milk of human kindness" calls upon the forces of the supernatural to "unsex" her (39). The mood is created through the use of the supernatural forces that create a sense of fear and uncertainty. Lady Macbeth asks to be filled with cruelty, remove all remorse, and to remove her milk which is associated with nurture and care to be replaced with bitter gall. A recurring motif is the
In Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of Macbeth the main character Macbeth is driven from his status as a well respected warrior and lord of not one, but two Scottish regions to a dishonest, unloyal murderer. Macbeth gets caught in a web of lies and vile acts of murder in which he brings about his own demise. His criminal actions lead up to his tragic ending of life. ‘ They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, But bearlike I must fight the course.’ His great ambition and gullibility of the witches predictions are two of the biggest factors of his downfall;however, Lady Macbeth was probably the biggest influence in the whole tragedy.
The tragedy of Macbeth comes about because of a single event in his life. If that one moment, the meeting with the witches on the heath, had not happened then Macbeth would no doubt have gone on to be a loyal and respected subject of King Duncan and, later, King Malcolm. However, the meeting did happen and the powerful force of ambition was unleashed within Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It is the combination of these two factors, the meeting with the witches and Macbeth's own inner demons, that lead to tragedy, and make the play 'terrifying' in the Aristotelian sense.
In Macbeth the witches have an evil effect on Macbeth, other characters, the plot, the theme, and the audience. They contribute to the play, and without them the plot would be greatly altered. The three witches have an evil effect on Macbeth and how he makes his actions throughout the play.
In his masterpiece Macbeth, William Shakespeare employs many motifs, but none more often than blood and water. The play includes many images of blood and water to show the characters' attitudes toward their own development of guilt. Both motifs mature and change in their meaning along with the setting and mood of the play. “Without an understanding of the blood and water symbolism, the play cannot be completely understood”(Scott 14). Blood symbolizes honor, treachery, and guilt. Water, in contrast, symbolizes cleanliness and purity of the soul, as though all it takes is water to wash guilt away.
William Shakespeare's Macbeth is an ominous tale that illustrates the danger in violating the Great Chain of Being, the hierarchy of things in God's ordered universe. The Chain ranked all of creation and human society as well. It ranked kings above nobles and nobles above the poor. When Macbeth murdered King Duncan and assumed the throne, the Chain was violated and chaos resulted. The atmosphere of the play symbolized this resulting turmoil. Specifically, light and darkness were used to exemplify the unnatural chaos and ominous tone of the work. The role of light and the role of darkness relates to the chaos resulting from the violation of the Great Chain of Being.
"Macbeth" is a tragic play that was written by William Shakespeare in the early 1600’s. It revolved around the character Macbeth and his urge to become king of Scotland. Macbeth had to do anything possible to become the king including murder, lying, and deception. However, Macbeth committed these evil deeds due to some influential people in his life. Between Macbeth’s wife persuading him to do anything to become king and the witches prophesying over him causes Macbeth to try and bury the past and control the future.
The supernatural has always fascinated and continues to intrigue mankind. In many of Shakespeare’s plays, he uses the supernatural to strengthen a particular scene or to influence the impression the audience has about someone or something. This was not strange or uncommon in Shakespeare’s time. In fact, during the 1500s, many people still believed in witches and witchcraft. Even in today’s society, with such advanced science and technology, many people are still influenced, if not dictated by the supernatural. For example, religious people have the belief that their saviour, Jesus Christ was a man of many miracles; one of which was he turned water into wine. Despite the fact that it
Shakespeare also utilizes the theme of appearance and reality. The classic dagger scene, when Macbeth is not sure if he can trust his eyes, is only one of many references to this theme. For instance, he sees Banquo's ghost at the banquet and Lady Macbeth imagines blood on her hands. Banquo talks about the 'cursed thoughts' he has had and his dreams of the witches. Macbeth talks of the world of thought and dreams and sometimes becomes lost within it. Lady Macbeth is critical of Macbeth's 'foolish thoughts' and talks of him being 'lost' because of this. The idea of sleep is also integrated, as Macbeth is told he has murdered sleep and will 'sleep no more' whilst Lady Macbeth thinks of sleep as death, calling it the sternest 'goodnight'.
The play, Macbeth, is established around the central idea that once you have completely abandoned your mind, morals, and being you lose everything you have. It is clear that the acts committed by the conflicted and mislead Macbeth, have the potential to shatter him as a mortal, such is the overall theme of Macbeth. But, when contemplating the presence of the unnatural forces in the play it is difficult to truly decipher what is meant by their intentions. The intervention of the supernatural evidently helps to assemble the play’s key theme of self demise, yet it can be viewed that supernatural manipulation can alter one’s fate such as that of Macbeth and his later death.“To know my deed ‘twere best not know myself” states Macbeth (act 2
Through the use of Dark and Light Motifs, Shakespeare highlights Macbeth’s change from a noble mental state to a reflective mental state throughout the play Macbeth.
The world renowned masterpiece, Macbeth, is a tragedy that has lasted throughout the centuries and has had a significant impact on English literature. The play takes place in turbulent times, in which betrayal, falsehood, and concealment lead to misery. To thoroughly encompass the suffering and wickedness that take place throughout the tragedy, Shakespeare uses dark imagery which evokes a sense of foreboding and imminent evil. A.C. Bradley describes Shakespeare’s technique concerning the imagery with his quote, “Darkness, we may even say blackness, broods over this tragedy …. All the scenes which at once recur to memory take place either at night or in some dark spot.” Nighttime is associated with unscrupulous beings and
the three witches. Within the immediate opening of the play, the evocation of Macbeth’s juxtaposing lines, “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” within the witches’ opening chant, “fair is foul and foul is fair” exposes the
“Witchcraft and witch-hunting in early modern Europe are among the most written about, yet most elusive, of historical topics.” This statement was made by Jim Sharpe, about the topic that I will be going over in this paper. So in it, we will be discussing witchcraft in England in the early 17th century. It will talk about a few of the reasons why the witch craze began, what exactly went on during that time, and how it relates to Macbeth. We will explore certain terminology about witches that some may be unfamiliar with, such as different names for witches and even their alleged companions.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner dictionary, `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. In this paper we shall look at some of supernatural elements in the play.