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Supernatural in Macbeth

Throughout two of Shakespeare’s most famous tragediesHamlet and Macbeth – one can see an overarching presence of and manipulation by supernatural forces. In the latter, this presence takes on the form of three witches, the “weird sisters” who provide Macbeth with a glimpse into his future and what is in store for him. Even before the audience meets the titular character, the witches suggest that a spell has been cast; one is left wondering if the remainder of the plot is due to their actions or those of the characters themselves.

Supernatural in Macbeth

This doubt is best seen in Macbeth’s rise to power in Scotland; the sisters predicted that he would become thane of Cawdor, thane of Glamis, and, ultimately, King. When the first of these occurs, Macbeth firmly believes the prophesies of the witches are true. He then takes a direct role in ensuring the latter two elements of the prophesy will take place, though the reader cannot help but wonder if this same plot action would have happened if Macbeth had not learned of this alleged prophesy. Ultimately, though, it is Macbeth’s dependence upon the supernatural that will be his undoing.

After becoming King, he again turned to the witches for guidance, and, upon receiving their prophecies, believed himself to be invincible. In his interpretation, what was said could never come to pass in the natural world. His murderous behavior in a quest for absolute power creates many enemies, and he is soon attacked. Each of the prophesies made by the witches comes true, but not in the way that Macbeth had predicted. As such, he is left defenseless and is slaughtered by those who sought revenge for his callousness and cruelty. The supernatural can be seen as the motivation for his actions to secure the throne for himself; his misinterpretation of the supernatural can also be seen as the driving force behind his ultimate loss of the throne.

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