The theme of witchcraft in macbeth by william shakespeare

Dating back to at least the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece, drama became an important part of celebrations for gods and competitions were held for the best new work of drama. Drama was popular in many other parts of the world as well, especially in the modern-day nations of India, China, and Japan.

The theme of witchcraft in macbeth by william shakespeare

American Book Company, In reading The Tempest we must bear in mind that the belief in magic and witchcraft was in Shakespeare's day an established article in the popular creed, and accepted by the great majority of the cultivated and learned.

To attack it was a bold thing to do, and few writers had ventured it. In Howard, Earl of Northampton, published his Defensative against the Poyson of Supposed Prophecies and in Reginald Scot brought out his Discoverie of Witchcraft in which, with great learning and ability, he exposed the pretensions of the magicians and their craft.

He made many enemies by it; and James I ordered all the copies of it that could be found to be burned by the public hangman. In the king published his own book on Daemonologie, in the preface to which he asserts that he wrote the book "chiefly against the damnable opinions of Wierus 1 and Scot.

Macbeth the play by William Shakespeare

Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholyrecords that magic, in which he appears to have been a believer himself, is "practised by some now;" and he says that the Roman emperors "were never so much addicted to magic of old as some of our modern princes and popes are nowadays.

From his 14th Sonnet we may infer that he did not believe even in astrology, as most people did long after his day; and yet Prospero is the grandest conception of the magician to be found in all our literature. The delineation is in strict accordance with the prevalent theory of the magic art, and yet it is so ennobled and idealized that in our day, when that theory is reckoned among the dead superstitions of a bygone age, we see nothing mean or unworthy in it.

Prospero belongs to the higher order of magicians — those who commanded the services of superior intelligences — in distinction from those who, by a league made with Satan, submitted to be his instruments, paying for the enjoyment of the supernatural power thus gained the price of their souls' salvation.

The former class of magicians, as Scot remarks, "professed an art which some fond [foolish] divines affirm to be more honest and lawful than necromancy, wherein they work by good angels.

Peculiar virtue was inherent in his robe, according to Scot and other writers; and we find Prospero saying to Miranda: With it he renders Ferdinand helpless: And make thy weapon drop.

His books were of yet greater importance to his art; and these the old magicians were supposed to guard with the utmost care. They have also among them books that they say Abraham, Aaron, and Solomon made; We are not shown how his spells are wrought. The silence requisite for their success — a condition associated with the most ancient accounts of the magic art — is insisted upon: If he had introduced the forms and ceremonies of conjuration and adjuration described by Scot, the effect would have been either ludicrous or disgusting.

In Macbeth where the Witches were meant to appear the black and midnight hags they really were, we have all the details of their infernal cuisine. The hell-broth is concocted before our eyes, and aU the foul and poisonous ingredients are enumerated in the song the beldams croak as they dance about the cauldron.

But here in The Tempest the spells and incantations are only hinted at: In the one case the art of the poet is as conspicuous in what it hides as in the other in what it reveals. The spirits were of various orders, according to their abode or sphere of operation, "whether," to quote Hamlet "in sea or fire, in earth or air," the four ancient "elements.

Water-spirits or sea-nymphs sing the knell of Ferdinand's father in the ditty that deceives the weeping prince; and later Prospero invokes the elves of brooks and standing lakes, and those that "on the sands with printless feet do chase the ebbing Neptune. Over all this spirit world Prospero bears sovereign rule by the power of a commanding intellect.

His subjects are "weak masters," he says; that is, weak individually, weak in the capacity for combining to make the most of their ability to do certain things that men cannot do. Prospero knows how to make them work in carrying out his far-reaching plans.

Shakespeare, while, as I have said, he has managed the supernatural part of the play in strict accordance with the theories of that day concerning magic, has at the same time avoided everything that was ridiculous or revolting in the popular belief.

He thus exercises, as it were, a magic power over the vulgar magic, lifting it from prose into poetry; and while doing this he has contrived to make it all so entirely consistent with what we may conceive of as possible to human science and skill that it seems as real as it is marvellous.

It is at once supernatural and natural. It is the highest exercise of the magic art, and yet it all goes on with as little jar to our credulity as the ordinary sequence of events in our everyday life. Sundry attempts have been made to prove The Tempest an allegory, but Shakespeare had no such intention.

The human characters are men and women distinctly individualized, not abstractions personified. Prospero, great as he is both as man and as magician, is not perfect, — not the ideal type of human genius and character, and not absolute master of himself.

This is the explanation of something in the second scene which has puzzled and misled some of the commentators, and of which no one of them, so far as I am aware, has given the correct interpretation. When Prospero is telling Miranda the story of her early life, why does he again and again charge her with being inattentive to a narration in which it is impossible that she should not be intensely interested?

If we could have any doubt on this point, it ought to be removed by her evident surprise that he could suppose her a careless or indifferent listener to so thrilling a tale.

It is amazing that two critics at least should have taken the ground that Miranda is not listening attentively. Her thoughts, they agree in telling us, are wandering off to the foundered ship and the unfortunate folk in it, for whom her tender heart was so deeply moved when she witnessed the shipwreck.

A keener critic gets somewhat nearer the truth when he says, "He thinks she is not listening attentively to his speech, partly because he is not attending to it himself, his thoughts being busy with the approaching crisis of his fortune, and drawn away to the other matters which he has in hand, and partly because in her trance of wonder at what he is relating she seems abstracted and self-withdrawn from the matter of his discourse.

His error is simply due to nervous excitement, which, as in meaner mortals, makes him irritable, impatient, and unreasonable.

The theme of witchcraft in macbeth by william shakespeare

Shakespeare has given us varied and abundant evidence that this crisis in his fortunes is a tremendous strain upon his powers, and he almost breaks down under it.Visit this William Shakespeare site including information about his famous play Macbeth.

Educational resource for the William Shakespeare play Macbeth with full text and plombier-nemours.comhensive facts, plot and summary about Macbeth the William Shakespeare play.

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Diane Purkiss discusses Renaissance beliefs about witches and shows how, in Macbeth, Shakespeare blurs the line between the witches and Lady Macbeth. Prophecy sets Macbeth’s plot in motion—namely, the witches’ prophecy that Macbeth will become first thane of Cawdor and then king. The weird sisters make a number of other prophecies: they tell us that Banquo’s heirs will be kings, that Macbeth should beware Macduff, that Macbeth is safe till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, and that no man born of woman can harm Macbeth.

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