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The Occult in Macbeth

  • Date Submitted: 06/01/2010 06:29 PM
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Alexander Jauregui
Dr. Vella
Period 2 English 3
The History behind the Occult in Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth accurately portrays the role of the occult in Elizabethan England, feeding into the fears of the general public.   The occult held many powers over its audience, and Shakespeare’s use of the occult held both symbolic and literal value.   The occult was used as a tool to introduce evil into the play through the actions and predictions of the three witches.   The appearance of witches was reasonable during the Elizabethan Age and the negative connotation that came with them was widely accepted.   Shakespeare also used this as a tool to illustrate the fall of Macbeth, from a great war hero to an insane tyrant and make it seem reasonable as if the only thing that could bring Macbeth down was the supernatural and evil.   Macbeth is truly a product of its time showing influence from the general conception of witchcraft at the time and expertly using these beliefs to his advantage to appeal to his audience.
The occult philosophy during the Elizabethan Age was alive and well and held a great amount of power over its audience.   Many of the common people feared the real threat of witchcraft and dark magic.   William Perkins a writer who wrote during the Elizabethan Age reported; “Witchcraft is a rife and common sinne in these our daies, and very many are intangled with it, beeing either practitioners thereof in their owne persons, or at the least, yeelding to seeke for helpe and counsell.” (Perkins 9).   Truly a product of his time, Shakespeare also shared this view of witchcraft as something unnatural and unholy; “What are these/so withered and so wild in their attire/that look not like th' inhabitants o' th' Earth” (Shakespeare 42).   This common view is significant because previously witches and witchcraft had not had a negative connotation.   Witchcraft had gained its negative connotation during the 17th century in England as a result of the bubonic...


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