The Influence of the Audiences` Supernatural Belief in Hamlet and Macbeth

Jonas Heidger

Seminar paper from the year 2015 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, language: English, abstract: Hamlet and Macbeth are two of Shakespeares most successful and greatest tragedies. One reason why this can safely be said, is that both tragedies are two of the greatest written by Shakespeare and both are some of the most written about plays in all Western literature. Given the great interest, that has scholars and critics captured and fascinated to continue writing and interpreting every character, theme, and every turn of events throughout the years. Both tragedies have much in common, as they open in the country in which the action took place, with a reigning monarchy, which is threatened from both interior and exterior of the country, as the murder of a king and the approach of an enemy armament, are at the center of both plots. The murderer in both plays is a kinsman of the king, occupying the throne out of greed for power but is being punished by death at the end of the tragedy. Both plays are located abroad, as Hamlet is placed in medieval Denmark and Macbeth in medieval Scotland. But what these plays have most in common is that the supernatural is playing a key role. The ghost of the old King in Hamlet and the three witches in Macbeth are determining the two protagonists actions and the establishment of the plays atmosphere from the outset. The supernatural in both plays was influenced by beliefs prevalent during Shakespeares lifetime.