Essay on Macbeth - Supernatural Theme

This essay has a total of 783 words and 4 pages.

Macbeth - Supernatural Theme


The presence of supernatural forces in William Shakespeare's, "Macbeth," provides for much
of the play's dramatic tension and the mounting suspense. Several supernatural apparitions
throughout the play profoundly affect Macbeth and the evil forces eventually claim Macbeth
and destroy his morals. Macbeth's ambition was driven by the prophecies of the three
witches and unlike Banquo, he was willing to do anything to assure that they actually
transpire. Macbeth is horrified at the notion of killing Duncan, his King and kinsman, but
he eventually succumbs to the evil forces and this leads to his downfall. Macbeth further
compromises his honor by arranging the murder of his best friend, Banquo. Banquo's places
Macbeth in a precarious situation; he is deeply entrenched in suspicion and there is no
way out. Macbeth's vision of Banquo's ghost at a royal banquet only drives him closer to
insanity.

Macbeth has changed dramatically as a character throughout the play. Macbeth was tortured
with remorse after Duncan's murder but upon hearing of Banquo's successful assassination
he is elated. His vaulting ambition was driving him to extreme measures and he could do
nothing to abate it. Macbeth had risked his life to attain the throne and he had no choice
but to employ Machiavellian practices to retain it. The appearance of Banquo's ghost at
the royal banquet horrifies Macbeth. Shakespeare brilliantly uses irony to make Banquo's
emergence very dramatic:

Macbeth: Fail not our feast.
Banquo: My lord, I will not.
(III, i, ll 28-29)

Banquo's appearance provides insight into the character of Macbeth. It shows the level
that Macbeth's mind has recessed to. His morality is declining and although he is battling
his conscience, the evil forces have overcome his every thought and action. Banquo's ghost
only appears to Macbeth and it represents his extreme guilt. Although he may have lost his
honor he still is having trouble enjoying the crown when he attained it by such vile
circumstances. "I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing/ To those that know me" (III,
iv, ll 86-87). Macbeth may be subconsciously referring to his conscience that has plagued
him since the first appearance of the three weird sisters.

Banquo's ghost appears during the banquet because it provides for an extremely suspenseful
scene. Macbeth is pitted in an internal conflict and is so tormented by guilt that he
could confess to his actions at any time. The tension only rises as Macbeth suffers a
breakdown and crumbles in front of many distinguished guests, only heightening any prior
suspicions they may have had. If Banquo didn't appear during the scene, Macbeth would only
remain content that his friend had been murdered knowing that the task of keeping Banquo's
children off the throne had grown much easier. Banquo's appearance helps to portray
Macbeth as a character because it shows that although he has lost most of his decency, he
still is embattled and deeply affected by the appearance of his deceased friend.
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