William Shakespeare is an English poet and playwright, often regarded as the greatest English-language writer and one of the best playwrights of the world. He is also considered to be the national poet of England. His works are imbued with comprehensive coverage of the phenomena of life and characters; this is the completeness of Shakespeare’s creations. The ideology of humanism in conjunction with the ideals and aspirations of people have always been the basis in his plays. Shakespeare knew how to capture and uncover contradictions of his time, as well as the dynamics with conflicts and struggle and drama in his writings.
The main theme of his works is the interaction between human and society, and while writing, he was always trying to be up to date. English people in the 17th century believed in the diversity of evil spirits, who disrupted the order of nature, called the storm, and predicted death and hunger.
And in his well-known tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare used the elements of the supernatural in order to attract readers and show them a darker side of our world. Having incorporated these supernatural elements in his play, he was unreservedly convinced that they were not just simple ghosts, that creatures existed outside of hallucinations.
The story begins with an unusual demonstration of the powerful thunder, which implies some events were going to happen further. Along with this strong lightning, readers also meet with three witches, who represent integral components of the uncanny atmosphere. In addition to their existence in general, they are able to see the future. They predict Macbeth’s life events hereafter and tell that he will be the king instead of King Dunkan. “All hail to thee, Thane of Cowdor, All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter” (Shakespeare). It appears to be the most important supernatural scene in Macbeth, because it describes the presence of the supernatural and fills up the reader with an understanding of the plot’s dark events. The witches depict Macbeth’s dark and closed motives. Furthermore, they are represented as an accelerator, which gives freedom to unfulfilled ambitions. Macbeth believes them and finds himself to be full of determination and desire to achieve the prediction.
The incredible vision of a dagger appears just before Macbeth is about to kill the King, and it is one more example of the preternatural nature of the story.
Shakespeare endows this dagger with evil, which gives a push for Macbeth to commit this cruel crime. A dagger is visible only to him, and with the help of this scene the author demonstrates the main aspect, that Macbeth is open to evil and darkness as he allows their entering in his soul. He becomes the victim of his own mind.
Banquo’s ghost, which appears nearly at the end of the story during the banquet, is another supernatural manifestation, and only Macbeth can see it. This apparition reflects both Macbeth’s loss of mind and his feelings of guilt, sorrow, and fear. “The supernatural occurs in all the appearances of the witches, in the appearance of Banquo’s ghost, in the apparitions with their prophecies, and in the air-drawn dagger that guides Macbeth towards his victim” (“Supernatural in Shakespeare’s Plays”).
Supernatural elements in the story influence the plot development and characters’ behavior. Personages are likely to believe witches’ and ghosts’ speeches. At the beginning of the play, we see Macbeth as an intelligent and clever man with his own life principles and goals. But what happens later, he loses all his strong features and develops a dependence on the supernatural, which takes control of all events. “We see him mentally ill, he gets the confusion and cannot recognize himself” (“Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth”). The preternatural is portrayed in all acts of the story where darkness exists. That is why Shakespeare identifies the supernatural with evil and shows how evil’s spirits lure people in by the similarity of truth.
Nonetheless, supernatural elements are important and integral aspects of the story, and Shakespeare did everything in order to make people believe them and be captured by the possibility of their manifestation in real life. Curiosity, which causes interest in further reading, makes the plot attractive, flexible, and mysterious. Without these items, the story would be boring and too simple for being considered as thought-provoking.
The human is the focus of Shakespeare’s drama, and the image of a human in all his complexity, significance, and dynamics of spiritual development is the most important artistic achievement of this great writer. The image of variability and versatility of a person is very important for him because the personality’s change is primarily connected with changes in the real situation of the hero, his place in life, and his surroundings.
In the final scenes of Shakespeare’s tragedies, there is always a return to a certain equilibrium that exists at the beginning. The author is convinced in the essence of some “norm,” without which life is impossible. Shakespeare shows the reality as being on scales with the supernatural.
With all the differences of individual stages of the playwright’s creative technique, in all his plays there is unity of artistic method. Goethe noted that “… the great foundation of his works is the truth and the life itself.” Fiction and supernatural elements, the combination of the conditional and naturalistic, are all manifestations of poetic approach to reality.