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Home » » What is Supernaturalism and Supernaturalism in Macbeth?

Supernaturalism is something that is above and beyond what is natural. It implies the events which cannot be directly explained by known laws and observations. Through the ages phenomena which could not be explained by the familiar laws of nature have been attributed to supernatural powers and influences. If these happenings led to the happiness of man they were attributed to benevolent powers; if on the contrary they resulted in suffering and misery, they were ascribed to evil spirits. Literature has continuously been enriched by stories in which the supernatural plays an important part. The desire to hear about the miraculous Is as strong in the civilized man as it was in his primitive ancestors, as it is in the naive child. The folklores of all ages and countries abound with tales of magic fairies, spirits, ghosts and demons. 

Supernaturalism is something that is above and beyond what is natural, There are a number of supernatural elements in Macbeth. Here it consists of 

(i) The Witches, 

(ii) the ghost of Banquo 

(iii) the unnatural portents, and 

(iv) the divine powers of the English kings. 

The play opens with a meeting of the Witches who, in Act I, Scene III make to Macbeth and Banquo certain prophecies that provide the necessary momentum to the action of the play. The Witches are evil which works through deception by posing as the friend of man. Then Banquo’s ghost has purely a subjective existence. Nobody else but Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo at the royal banquet. The ghost is therefore to be regarded as a personification of Macbeth’s sense of guilt in having murdered an innocent man. The ghost helps in the disclosure of Macbeth’s crime and as such the development of the plot. Then a number of portents, such as the shaking of the earth, a mouse killing a falcon, and Duncan’s horses eating each other, serve to emphasize the unnaturalness of Macbeth’s deed in murdering Duncan. These prodigies indicate that Nature is in sympathy with man. 

Then the English king, Edward the Confessor is reported to have the power to cure an incurable disease, and he has also the gift of prophecy. The purpose of mentioning these supernatural powers is to establish a contrast between the wickedness of Macbeth and king Edward’s goodness. Thus the supernatural elements give to the play a rich texture that raises the tragedy to a cosmic dimension.


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