Study Guide

Macbeth The Supernatural

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The Supernatural

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Are the three weird sisters witches, or are they just … three weird sisters? Is there really a floating dagger, or is Macbeth just making up excuses? Does he really see a ghost, or is it just the impression of his guilty conscience? Do you believe in magic? In Macbeth, the supernatural isn't just for stories around the fireplace; it's a real, everyday fact of life. Almost, you might say, natural.

Unless, of course, it isn't. To figure out what's going on with all the witches and ghosts, you have to decide whether you believe in fate. Is Macbeth seeing daggers and ghosts because someone outside his control is controlling him? Or is he simply seeing the fevered imaginings of a guilty and freely choosing mind?

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. How do Banquo and Macbeth react when they first encounter the weird sisters in Act I, Scene iii? Are they surprised, afraid, confused?
  2. The witches accurately predict Macbeth's future, but do they control his fate? Why or why not?
  3. How would you characterize the witches' speech? What does it suggest about their characters? How does it set them apart from other characters in the play?
  4. Are there connections or similarities between the witches and any other characters in the play? If so, what are they, exactly

Chew on This

Macbeth consistently undercuts the reality of the supernatural by focusing on the Macbeths' internal guilt and struggle.

In Macbeth, the supernatural represents the fear of the unknown.

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