The forces of evil and the supernatural are dominant in the play Macbeth
Without a doubt, There are many forces of evil and the supernatural to be seen in the tragic play Macbeth. It is obvious that these forces are dominant in the play as they play a vital role in the plot and they appear continuously throughout the play, but they do not dominate the play, as good wins out over evil in the end. These forces can be seen as characters, as apparitions, as actions and also in the language of the play. The most powerful and manipulative force of evil comes from the supernatural characters of the “weird sisters” or the three witches.
Immediately in the opening scene we are introduced to them. It is clear that they will play a major role in the play. They speak in riddles “fair is foul and foul is fair…” and they cast an ominous tone over the entire play. The dramatic opening with thunder and lightning emphasises their evil nature.
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The witches are the embodiment of pure motiveless evil. They are immediately associated with the worst evil of all, the devil, by Banquo, “what! Can the devil speak true?
” The witches are vital to the play because they are the ones who stoked the fires of Macbeth’s ambition, without them there would be no play, as Macbeth would never have committed regicide without their influence. Macbeth is immediately associated with the witches in his first line, which echoes the witches line, “so foul and fair a day I have not seen. ” The witches’ power is strong, they can control the weather at will and it has even been suggested that they can fly, “hover through the fog and filthy air“, but they are very spiteful and malevolent beings.
After one of the witches was insulted by a woman, she cursed the woman’s husband “he shall live a man forbid. ” The high witch, Hecate, is a terrible force of evil. This is emphasised by her many references to hell, “at the pit of Acheron meet me. ” The witches are important in the play because they manipulate Macbeth and spark evil ideas in his mind, “shall draw him on to his confusion” and they lure him into a false sense of security. They entice and seduce him into committing treacherous deeds such as the murder of Duncan.
There is no doubt in my mind that their supernatural powers and force of evil are dominant in the play as they can be felt throughout the whole play. The forces of evil also show themselves as apparitions. The two most dramatic scenes of the play are, in my opinion, the banquet scene and the dagger scene. In both of these scenes, the supernatural is evident as Macbeth is hallucinating. The dagger scene is a scene of compelling drama and it is extremely important to the play because it is here where we see Macbeth’s inner moral conflict. We gain an insight into his morals and his psychological state.
The presence of the witches can be felt again in this scene because we are unsure whether it is simply “a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat oppressed brain” or if the dagger was conjured by the witches to goad Macbeth into killing Duncan. The dramatic effect of the scene is powerful; Macbeth’s mood of expectant horror and his moral dilemma is conveyed vividly by this bloody vision. In the banquet scene, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. It is a terrible, horrific image that frightens Macbeth, “never shake thy gorey locks at me.
” This is a very dramatic and supernatural scene. Macbeth is on the brink of a mental breakdown. In this scene we see good challenging evil, i. e. Banquo’s ghost confronting Macbeth. This scene is also associated with the witches as Macbeth decides to go to them for guidance after he sees Banquo’s ghost. This is more evidence that the forces of evil are dominant in the play, they are constantly hovering in the background even when we do not see them. Their presence can always be felt. In Elizabethan times, people believed that the king was appointed by god himself to be his representative on earth.
To kill a king was a “most sacrilegious murder” and in the wake of the murder of Duncan, the heavens themselves were disturbed by such an evil crime and the world started to descend into chaos. The natural world began to behave in a crazed, unnatural and chaotic manner. We learn from an old man that on the night of Duncan’s murder the earth shook, the weather got stormy, and “strange screams of death” filled the air. The evil deed was so immense that Scotland no longer received daylight, “by the clock ‘tis day and yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp”.
He describes the state of nature, “’tis unnatural”. Animals start to behave in unbelievable manners, a mousing owl hawked a falcon, and Duncan’s horses turned against each other. “’Tis said they eat each other. ” The other kings presented in the play are seen as holy and devout “sundry blessings hang about his throne. ” The kings are “full of grace” and Duncan’s body is a desecrated tomb, “murder hath broke ope the lord’s anointed temple and stole thence the life o’ th’ building. ” In stark contrast to these descriptions Macbeth is described as a hellish, tyrant ruler.
He doesn’t care about killing “from this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand”. Scotland is becoming a place of evil and terror under Macbeth’s rule, “each new morn new widows howl, new orphans cry. ” Macbeth ruthlessly murders the innocent family of Macduff for absolutely no reason, and I think this is a key example of how evil is dominant not only in the play, but it is dominant within the character of Macbeth aswell. Another scene that shows how evil dominates the play is the comic relief scene with the porter.
Macbeth is seen as an evil force for the majority of the play, he has damned his soul to hell, “and mine eternal jewel given to the common enemy of man. ” Macbeth’s castle becomes like a hell on earth, and the porter describes himself as porter of “hell-gate” and makes many references to the devil, “Beelzebub”, “devil’s name”, “devil porter”. These references to the source of all evil, the devil, really show how the forces of evil are dominant in this play. It is clear that the supernatural and the forces of evil are dominant in the play, but as I have said before, they do not dominate the play.
There are some examples of the goodness of humanity in the play. At the beginning, Macbeth was not evil. He was a virtuous, valiant and noble warrior. He had compassion for others, and woman Macbeth even feared that he was “too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way. ” Macbeth originally did not want to kill Duncan, “if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir. ” Also Macduff and Malcolm are both very virtuous characters, and they remain good throughout the play. It is Macduff who eventually slays Macbeth and defeats evil.
King Duncan and King Edward are associated with heaven and King Edward has a “heavenly gift of prophecy” which contrasts with how Macbeth sees the future through “the worst means”, “the instruments of darkness . ” it is hinted throughout the play that Malcolm has all of the virtues to be a great king, but his throne was usurped by Macbeth. Banquo is a figure of good throughout the play aswell.
Although the witches told him that he would father kings, he did not dwell upon these thoughts, unlike Macbeth, and he realised that the witches were evil and tried to warn Macbeth about them, “oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence. ” At the end of the play, we feel sympathy for Macbeth. He is the tragic hero of the play so ultimately he is good. He was driven by “vaulting ambition”, manipulated, and encouraged by the forces of evil around him. In conclusion, I think that the forces of evil and the supernatural are definatly dominant in the play because without them we would have no play. They make up most of the scenes in the play, and their presence can be felt in almost every scene.
There are so many examples of evil in the play and the supernatural plays a really important role, from the witches who goad Macbeth and entice him into becoming evil, to the hallucinations that torture Macbeths mind. I do not believe that, although the majority of the play is centred around evil and the supernatural, these forces dominate the play. Some good can still be seen in Macbeth’s character, and he redeems himself to a certain extent at the end of the play. Also there are those characters who remained good, and who fought to bring down the tyrant Macbeth.