William Shakespear wrote Macbeth during the Renaissance period, a critical time in human history. During this particular moment, it was common for writers to include supernatural elements in their works to make them interesting. Adding these features was bound to increase the intrigue surrounding the book and all its characters. The tragedy comes alive when all the supernatural elements are triggered to introduce the surreal nature of the subject matter and how the author chooses to present them during the story. In this particular time, there was an apparent struggle between forces of good and evil in a society that was struggling to establish a boundary between these two entities. The dramatic effect was also heightened by the presence of these supernatural elements and their inclusion in the development of the plot. In this essay, I will discuss the significance of Banquo’s ghost and the witches.
Macbeth and Banquo were longtime friends who were had maintained their cordial relationship throughout the years. They had weathered the storms and were ready to always stay dedicated to each other and especially during these tumultuous time in the history of Scotland. Both individuals were in mortal danger since the Norwegians had vowed to stop at nothing to usurp King Duncan’s throne. During one of their trips back home, Macbeth receives great news that he will become the next ruler of Scotland but is greatly troubled when he remembers that part of the also prophesy explicitly claimed that Banquo’s children would succeed him. In a bid to avert this eventuality, Macbeth decides to murder Banquo. He never quite recovered after performing this heinous act. Banquo’s ghost would soon start tormenting Macbeth for the decision he ultimately made: “ The time has been that, when the brains were out, the man would die, And there an end; but now they rise again, With twenty moral murders on their crowns, And push and push us from our stools. This is more strange Than such a murder is….” (3.4.83). It was during this unnatural brush with a ghost that Macbeth realized that gravity of his decision to kill Banquo, a loyal friend.
During Elizabethan England, tales featuring witches always fascinated the public. The main reason had to do with a large number of women burned at stake after being accused of practicing witchcraft. These individuals were thought to have supernatural powers that enabled them to see future events an even transform human beings from one form to another. Macbeth encounters three witches who predict the course his life is about taken. The witches in this particular occasion are integral to the development of the plot as they predict that Macbeth would become King of Scotland. Macbeth acknowledges the circumstances in which he would become king but follows his destiny; ‘So foul and fair a day I have not seen’ (1.3.38). These three witches are nothing close to the descriptions provided of individuals of their ilk. They were helpful in supplying Macbeth with valuable information about his future and the events that would follow soon after. He was therefore well equipped with sufficient knowledge while anticipating their fulfillment.
In conclusion, Macbeth is teeming with instances when supernatural and unnatural elements appear. Banquo’s ghost and the witches delivering their prophecy are just but a few examples of these items in the tragedy. Their purpose was to aid in the development of the plot to create a Shakespearean tragedy.