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Supernatural in Shakespeare's Plays

Supernatural in Shakespeare's Plays

In the time of William Shakespeare there was a strong belief in the existence of the supernatural. Thus, the supernatural is a recurring aspect in many of Mr. Shakespeare¹s plays. In two such plays, Hamlet and Macbeth, the supernatural is an integral part of the structure of the plot. It provides a catalyst for action, an insight into character, and augments the impact of many key scenes. The supernatural appears to the audience in many varied forms. In Hamlet there appears perhaps the most notable of the supernatural forms, the ghost. However, in Macbeth, not only does a ghost appear but a floating dagger, witches, and prophetic apparitions make appearances. The role of the supernatural is very important in Hamlet and Macbeth.

A ghost, appearing in the form of Hamlet¹s father, makes several appearances in the play. It first appears to the watchmen, Marcellus and Bernardo, along with Horatio near the guardsmens' post. The ghost says nothing to them and is perceived with fear and apprehension, ³It harrows me with fear and wonder². It is not until the appearance of Hamlet that the ghost speaks, and only then after Horatio has expressed his fears about Hamlet following it, ³What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, or to the dreadful summit of the cliff².

The conversation between the ghost and Hamlet serves as a catalyst for Hamlet¹s later actions and provides insight into Hamlet¹s character. The information the ghost reveals incites Hamlet into action against a situation he was already uncomfortable with, and now even more so. Hamlet is not quick to believe the ghost, ³The spirit that I have seen may be a devil... and perhaps out of my weakness and my melancholy..abuses me to damn me², and thus an aspect of Hamlet¹s character is revealed. Hamlet, having no suspicion of the ghost after the production by the players, encounters the ghost next in his mother¹s room. In this scene the ghost makes an appearance to ³whet² Hamlet¹s ³almost blunted purpose². Hamlet is now convinced of the ghost and he no longer harbors any suspicion. He now listens to it, ³Speak to her, Hamlet².

In Hamlet, the supernatural is the guiding force behind Hamlet. The ghost ask Hamlet to seek revenge for the King¹s death and Hamlet is thus propelled to set into action a series of events that ends in Hamlet¹s death.

The supernatural occurs four...

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