Darkness, horror and the supernatural are all tools that an author may use to seize the attention and interest of the reader. These tools may be used in any manner of ways in order to capture the readers? attention. The tools set the mood, which will engross the mind of the reader and will thus draw them into the plot of the literary work. In his tragic play Macbeth, William Shakespeare exercises the thematic tools of darkness, horror and the supernatural because these tools appeal to the audience?s curiosity of the mysterious and thus strengthens their interest. It is these tools that Shakespeare uses in order to enrapture the reader and audience into the drama that is about to unfold. Without the mystery in this play, the plot would be ordinary, and there would be nothing unusual to attract the attention of the reader.
The brilliance of Shakespeare?s use of these thematic tools is seen instantly in the opening of his play, which is set on a dark stormy night. Shakespeare uses this setting to set the mood for the play in its? entirety. It is foreshadowing that there will be evil, corruption, and calamity throughout the play. If the play began with the opening scene set on a sunny spring morning, the effect of darkness, horror and the supernatural would be unsuitable and inappropriate. Also, if the play opened up on a sunny day, the intensity and significance of the witches? role would be significantly reduced. The setting of the play on a dark stormy night adds to the mystery and horror that will be portrayed throughout the play.
The witches in Macbeth play a considerably important role. The witches are one of the main approaches that Shakespeare uses in order to set a mood of chaos, confusion and conflict. The witches represent everything evil in the play. They represent the evil convictions and the evil inclinations of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. These witches are the catalyst that unleash the evil desires and ambitions of Macbeth. They are the driving force that lead Macbeth to plot against King Duncan, because Macbeth believes what the witches tell him about the future and wants to know more about the future. He even goes to look for them in a cave in order to acquire knowledge from them about his future. Thus, the witches are what stimulate everything that happens to Macbeth and because of Macbeth. The text describes the witches as agents of chaos because of the dark domain around them. The witches who live in a cave are described as ?secret, black and midnight hags?. The witches? dark appearance signifies their destructive nature. Another important theme that the witches portray is the equivocation of their language. The witches use language that deliberately misleads people for one reason or another, it is full of paradox and ambiguity, which is meant to confuse Macbeth, who calls the witches ?imperfect speakers?. The witches play an important role in this tragedy because not only do they have the ability to predict the future, but they have the ability to affect it as well. An example of this is the fact that the witches predicted that Macbeth would be king of Scotland, and because of this prediction Macbeth planned to conspire against King Duncan. Without the prediction of the witches, there is a possibility that Macbeth would have chosen not to act in that way. The reader clearly gets a sense that things are not what they seem because of the actions of the witches. Clearly the witches occupy a crucial position in the drama of Macbeth.
Besides for the witches, Shakespeare uses other thematic tools in order to attract the attention of the reader. One of these other tools is the disorientation of several characters caused by lack of sleep. Macbeth, one of such characters has trouble sleeping showing that he is troubled by the occurrences that surround him and by the intentions of his mind. Obviously Macbeth is haunted by his evil inclinations, however he still goes ahead with his intentions. Macbeth is indecisive about his actions, however the evil within him causes his to submit to these evil inclinations. In Act II, Macbeth says, ?Macbeth shall sleep no more? (56), this signifies that Macbeth can?t sleep because of the guilt he feels over the murder of Duncan.
Lady Macbeth is another character who is disoriented in her sleep. Lady Macbeth is undergoing somewhat of a nervous breakdown because of the incidents that have taken place in their palace. She is sleepwalking and rambling nonsense as she is consumed by guilt. This is shown in the fact that she wants to wash the blood of Duncan off her hands, and she keeps mentioning it during her sleepwalking. Her mind is disturbed and this is shown in the manner of her speech.
Another device that Shakespeare uses in order to keep the attention of the reader is the implementation of visions and hallucinations. The floating dagger, the ghost of Banquo, and the apparitions are all examples of visions and hallucinations found in Macbeth. He speaks of the ?dagger of the mind? that haunts him when he is contemplating the murder of King Duncan. The dagger that appears before Macbeth and leads the way to Kind Duncan appears to be covered in blood and thus has an impact upon Macbeth, causing him to kill King Duncan. . The ghost of Banquo appears twice in this play, and scares Macbeth. The ghost of Banquo is clearly a manifestation of the guilt that possesses Macbeth. All of the hallucinations that occur in the mind of Macbeth are connected with the developing occurrences. The apparitions brought upon by the witches are used to show Macbeth what will happen in the future. However, Macbeth uses these apparitions to assure his position as King of Scotland, and to confirm his belief that his kingdom is secure. The visions and hallucinations that are experienced by Macbeth are all used by Shakespeare to add dramatic tension to the play and to keep the audience engaged.
The brilliance of Shakespeare can surely be seen in all of his works. The plot, characters, and language are all used in a systematic manner to ensure that the both the reader and audience are kept entertained and interested. In his tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare specifically uses the thematic tools of horror, hallucination and the idea of the supernatural to engage the reader and the audience. These tools are also used to provide insight into the motivations and thoughts of the characters. The darkness, witches, visions and hallucinations, all add to the plot of this play and make Macbeth a play that will surely keep the attention of the reader and audience.