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Attitudes towards supernatural knowledge in Shakespeares Hamlet and Macbeth
2001 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The two heroes of Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth are in a way like each other, since they both are individuals to whom the possibility of killing is presented. In Hamlet’s case, it is the ghost of his dead father who tells him to revenge his murder, which Hamlet interprets as to kill the reigning king, Hamlet’s uncle, since he has murdered his brother. In Macbeth, it is the three witches who tell Macbeth that he is going to become king of Scotland, which triggers his ambition and makes him start plotting against Duncan, the reigning king. _x000B_The purpose of this essay is to investigate which attitudes the two main characters of the two plays have towards the supernatural knowledge that has been presented to them. What kinds of supernatural powers are working in the plays? Are they good or evil, and what are the effects of their predictions? Is there a possibility to change, or are Hamlet and Macbeth bound by their prophecies or commands, making their lives predestined, and leaving them without a free will? Hamlet’s and Macbeth’s attitudes toward the supernatural commands or prophecies differs to some extent due to difference in personalities. Besides the difference in personality, they receive totally different messages from the ghost and the three witches. Even though there are several differences between Hamlet and Macbeth, there is one feature they share, namely the fact that they have a free will and are not predestined to act in a particular way. Hamlet is not forced to obey the ghost’s request, only asked. Nobody demands any kind of retribution but himself. The pressure that is put on him comes from within himself. He has throughout the play the possibility to choose in every situation he is facing. He is drawn into the fencing scene, where he finally kills Claudius, but that is a consequence of a deliberate choice. Macbeth has the same possibility to choose whether he is going to murder Duncan or not. He has the chance to refuse, but he makes the choice to satisfy his ambition. Consequently, regardless of requests, prophecies and persuasions, they are both free, and fully responsible for their actions in the plays.

Abstract [en]

The two heroes of Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth are in a way like each other, since they both are individuals to whom the possibility of killing is presented. In Hamlet’s case, it is the ghost of his dead father who tells him to revenge his murder, which Hamlet interprets as to kill the reigning king, Hamlet’s uncle, since he has murdered his brother. In Macbeth, it is the three witches who tell Macbeth that he is going to become king of Scotland, which triggers his ambition and makes him start plotting against Duncan, the reigning king. The purpose of this essay is to investigate which attitudes the two main characters of the two plays have towards the supernatural knowledge that has been presented to them. What kinds of supernatural powers are working in the plays? Are they good or evil, and what are the effects of their predictions? Is there a possibility to change, or are Hamlet and Macbeth bound by their prophecies or commands, making their lives predestined, and leaving them without a free will? Hamlet’s and Macbeth’s attitudes toward the supernatural commands or prophecies differs to some extent due to difference in personalities. Besides the difference in personality, they receive totally different messages from the ghost and the three witches. Even though there are several differences between Hamlet and Macbeth, there is one feature they share, namely the fact that they have a free will and are not predestined to act in a particular way. Hamlet is not forced to obey the ghost’s request, only asked. Nobody demands any kind of retribution but himself. The pressure that is put on him comes from within himself. He has throughout the play the possibility to choose in every situation he is facing. He is drawn into the fencing scene, where he finally kills Claudius, but that is a consequence of a deliberate choice. Macbeth has the same possibility to choose whether he is going to murder Duncan or not. He has the chance to refuse, but he makes the choice to satisfy his ambition. Consequently, regardless of requests, prophecies and persuasions, they are both free, and fully responsible for their actions in the plays.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 23 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53849Local ID: ENG D-10OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53849DiVA: diva2:1102409
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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