Macbeth Guilt: Use Of The Supernatural To Develop Complex Characters

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The supernatural cannot be explained by science and can help characters develop throughout the text. In the play, Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, he uses the supernatural to develop complex characters better than J. R. R. Tolkien does in his book The Hobbit. Shakespeare uses the supernatural to pull out the worst in human beings, show the struggles the characters face mentally, and accentuates the supernatural aspect through human characters.

In Macbeth, the use of supernatural brings out the worst qualities in the characters, which help them develop more complexly throughout the play. “Do you find / Your patience so predominant in your nature / That you can let this go? Are you so gospell'd / To pray for this good man and for his issue, / Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave / And beggar'd yours for ever?” (III, i, 1100-1105). Macbeth tells the murders that Banquo is the reason they are so poor and they will forever be poor because of him. Macbeth turns against his friend Banquo because of the prophecy he heard from the witches. The prophecy, which is a supernatural occurrence, brought out how selfish and naive Macbeth really is, which ultimately leads to him hiring murderers to kill his friend. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And, to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place / Did then adhere, and yet you would make both: / They have made themselves, and that their fitnes snow / Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know / How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling in my face, / Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this.” (I, vii, 128-138). Lady Macbeth guilt trips Macbeth into trying to kill Duncan so he becomes king. This shows the greediness hidden inside of Lady Macbeth and her need for power that she reveals after Macbeth tells her about the witches’ prophecy. This helps develop Lady Macbeth throughout the play and shows how she later ends up killing herself because of the guilt she experiencing after the murder.

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The killing of Duncan and Banquo in Macbeth has caused Macbeth and his wife to become mentally ill and the guilt Macbeth feels from killing both his friend and the king causes him to see things. “Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep, / Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, / The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath , / Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, / Chief nourisher in life's feast,” (II, ii, 694 - 695). Macbeth heard people calling him a murderer and was paranoid that someone witness the murder of Duncan. After this, he sees a dagger that floats in the air, the same dagger that he used to kill Duncan. He sees supernatural entities, like the floating dagger, that makes the reader question Macbeth’s mental state. This comes up later in the play where he believes he sees another mysterious, supernatural thing. “O proper stuff! / This is the very painting of your fear: / This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said, / Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts, / Impostors to true fear, would well become / A woman's story at a winter's fire, / Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!” (III, iv, 1346 – 1353). Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his seat, which freaks Macbeth out. His wife tells him that he’s just seeing things like the dagger that was floating. The ghost of Banquo, an unexplainable entity, makes Macbeth slowly go crazy at the party, which weakens his overall mental state.

Some may say that The Hobbit includes so many supernatural occurrences that it must be better when it comes to the developing of characters. “But their spirits sank at his grave words, and they all felt that the adventure was far more dangerous than they had thought, while all the time, even if they passed all the perils of the road, the dragon was waiting at the end,” ( Chapter 7, The Hobbit). Bilbo realizes that the adventure he decided to take was really dangerous. Usually, Bilbo’s kind do not go on adventures but Bilbo went on one. He becomes more courageous and does not quit during his adventure. He develops a lot while meeting magical, supernatural creatures that could kill him, which allows him to grow in those areas. However, the supernatural is accentuated by being presented in non-supernatural settings and through ordinary human characters in Macbeth, which makes the story more interesting and allows the characters to develop into who they were. “Bring forth men-children only; / For thy undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males. Will it not be received, / When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two / Of his own chamber and used their very daggers, / That they have done't?” (I, vii, 554-559). Lady Macbeth explains to her husband the plan for the murder of Duncan and plans on using the dagger the guards have on them so that she can blame them for the murder of the king. She is so convinced that the prophecy is true that she is willing to plan a murder and blame it on someone else. The fact that Shakespeare uses humans and not magical creatures when it comes to facing the supernatural helps weigh on why the characters are better developed. The magical creatures in The Hobbit can be used to the supernatural occurrences, wherein Macbeth, the characters are human being and do not experience the supernatural very often.

The play, Macbeth, uses the supernatural better than The Hobbit does due to the overall mental health and actions of the characters in the play. The play has less supernatural experiences in it than The Hobbit does, but it presents it better by having better complex characters. The complex characters are more developed in the play Macbeth due to Shakespeare using the supernatural as a way for the characters to change throughout the play.

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Macbeth Guilt: Use Of The Supernatural To Develop Complex Characters. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
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