Supernatural Forces cause the Fall of Man in Macbeth

In Shakespeare?s "Macbeth" supernatural forces create a suspenseful atmosphere. The use of the supernatural in the witches, the visions, the ghost and the apparitions provides the backbone of the climax and "excuses" for Macbeth?s change of character. Because conscience plays such a central role in Macbeth?s tragic struggle, many critics use spiritual and supernatural theories to illuminate the drama?s character development.

The play opens with the use of the supernatural when three witches encounter Macbeth on his way home from a battle and proceed to predict his fate. This gives the audience a glimpse of the path the play will follow. The witches plan to meet again, "When the battles (battle is) lost and won?" (I. I. 1-4). This theme becomes recurring throughout the play. It can be noted that the witches meet after every battle is lost and won, and every battle, whether man against man, man against nature or man against himself it will always be lost by one side and won by another. Eventually Macbeth will lose the battle for his soul. Literary critic, Charles Lamb quotes, "When we read the incantations of the Witches in Macbeth, though some of the ingredients of their hellish composition savour of the grotesque, yet is the effect upon us other than the most serious and appalling that can be imagined? Do we not feel spell-bound as Macbeth was?" (Lamb). After the witches reveal the fate of Macbeth becoming king, he begins to develop an immoral plan to carry out the prophecy. The only way for Macbeth to have the throne will be to wait or to kill King Duncan. Macbeth already knew of his future as king due to the witches? forecast of his future, so how he went about getting there did not concern Macbeth. Had the three sisters not confronted Macbeth with the news of his possible future would he have thought of a deviant plan to murder King Duncan, and better yet, would he have had a future as a king at all? Another critic of Shakespearean Literature believes "Their (the witches) two appearances divide the tragedy in two movements, the one of which unfolds the crime, and other as punishment." (Snider 289) If you refer back to the text you will find just as the witches appear before Macbeth the first time, the plot to murder King Duncan begins and immediately after the second visitation, the events leading to Macbeth?s death take place. Had the three witches not encountered Macbeth that day, would Duncan still be alive? The three sisters held the power of motivating Macbeth to kill Duncan by planting the idea in his head that he could be king.

The "ghostly" dagger, which led Macbeth to Duncan?s chamber, also represents the supernatural forces that cause the fall of Macbeth. "His benumbed isolation before, during and right after Duncan?s murder is one of the most vivid memories, and we can see him in the same abstraction again among the mourners after Duncan is found." (Manyard 62) Macbeth?s memories of the murder of King Duncan were too cloudy for him to remember because the disillusionment and distraction of the knife influenced him to go through with killing Duncan. Macbeth followed the bloody dagger to Duncan?s room and even thought twice about murdering the king. Manyard also states "Shakespeare emphasizes the visibility of the dagger, partly, I suppose, because it is an instrument of powers that will repeatedly - with blood, daggers, ghosts, and every insidious form of apparition- work on Macbeth?s sight and partly too because its appearance at this moment defines with characteristic ambiguity the complex kinds of sources of experience to which Macbeth as a tragic hero is sensitive." (Manyard 70) Macbeth exhibits sensitivity towards what he does not understand or comprehend. These strange occurrences bring forth Macbeth?s uncertainty of the unnatural, causing his character to have two paths to travel down: the right one or the wrong one. The floating dagger along with emotions and adrenaline coaxed Macbeth to the murder. Had he not encountered dagger, he wouldn?t have ever traveled up the stairs to Duncan?s chamber.

Banquo?s ghost is yet another paranormal experience Macbeth encounters, and also the one that sent Macbeth over the edge. Author Ludwig Jekels felt that "the poet dramatizes, with wonderful clarity, the fear of the son (Banquo) now the father, upon confronting,