The Use of Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Kyd's the Spanish Tragedy
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Discuss the usage and effects that the supernatural elements have in both Kyd's `The Spanish Tragedy' and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ghosts or supernatural beings feature both in The Spanish Tragedy, written by Thomas Kyd, in 1587, and in Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, in 1601. Ghosts and the supernatural `remind the characters and the audience of the constraints the past places on the present, and also the obligations the living bear to the departed' . There were many superstitions surrounding these entities during Elizabethan times. A ghost defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is `the soul of a deceased person, spoken of as appearing in a visible form, or otherwise manifesting its presence, to the living.' The supernatural…show more content…
All we know of the ghost in the Ur Hamlet, as the original text has not survived, is that it was a `ghost who cries like an oyster wife in the cellarage', which is extremely unlike the ghost we see in Hamlet, but that could have been an initial starting point for Shakespeare to work from.
In the play Hamlet, the ghost initially appears to a group of sentries stationed outside the palace on a cold and eerie night. Ghosts and the supernatural were extremely popular in the drama of the period, and symbolised many things. In other texts of the time the usage of ghosts became extreme, as they started to talk to the characters and quickly lost their potency as a dramatic device. To an Elizabethan audience the appearance of the ghost at this particular time could have any of four meanings. It could be the actual ghost of a person returning to perform a task, an evil omen of a forthcoming event, an incarnation of the devil, or finally a symbol of the craziness and madness about at the time. Which refers specifically to the quote `all is rotten in the state of Denmark'. Shakespeare knew these four interpretations and played on them with the inclusion of the ghost, as it created confusion and mayhem. The ghost would not and could not speak, unless, he was spoken to by an educated person. Marcellus judges Horatio to be this
Essay on Supernatural Forces in "Macbeth"
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The Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare is shaped by supernatural forces with the use of the weird witches, the apparition of the ghost, and the floating dagger. These forces lead Macbeth to act in the way he did and add suspense to the play. The play opens with the three witches, and later on Macbeth and Banquo encounter them. They prophesized that Macbeth will be promoted to Thane of Cawdor, and then become King of Scotland. In addition to that, Banquo was told that his sons shall be kings, but never himself. Macbeth was skeptical about the prophesies, but until some of King Duncan’s men came to inform Macbeth that that he was to be named Thane of Cawdor due to the betrayal of the previous and condemned to death. Then Lady Macbeth…show more content…
If Macbeth didn’t know about this prophecy he would have happily took his position as Thane of Cawdor, but knowing he will be King drove him to commit murder. Macbeth was rapidly changed from an honorable general to an evil tyrant. “The witches did not tell him to commit murder; all that was necessary was for them to suggest the fact of the crown, and they could trust Macbeth to overcome the obstacles in his way just as they would have him” (Wiley, 45). This emphasizes the fact that the play is shaped by the supernatural. This lead to the murder of Duncan, then to get rid of his obstacles he kills the guards. The Witches also reveal “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none” (1.3.67) to Banquo. This knowledge leads Macbeth to send Murderers to kill Banquo and his son. This is more evidence to show that the words of the witches construct the plays events. The witches play an important role they have the ability to predict the future and affect it too. Without their warnings and predictions Macbeth wouldn’t have chosen to act in the way he did. In their second appearance they prophesize that that he cannot be harmed by no one born of woman, a child with a crown represents Malcolm, and he’s warned about the moving Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill. “But yet I’ll make assurance double sure, and take a bond of fate” (4.1.83-84).