Macbeth: Psychological or Metaphysical Drama

Macbeth: Psychological or Metaphysical Drama

  • Submitted By: 910401
  • Date Submitted: 02/20/2009 9:33 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2646
  • Page: 11
  • Views: 1

Macbeth: Psychological or Metaphysical Drama?

The starting point for deciding whether Macbeth is a metaphysical and psychological drama concerns the definition of these two terms. Metaphysical is defined as “the theoretical philosophy of being and knowing” which suggests that “being” and “knowing” are central to understanding what is metaphysical within the world as a whole. On the other hand, psychological is linked much more to the individual in terms of understanding things relating to or arising in the mind. Both these definitions are linked by the word “understanding” but with the former relating to the external world in general and the latter looking for understanding internally through the mind of the person. The next question that leads on from this concerns what type of understanding the terms lead to. For the purposes of this essay, I am going to use “understanding” of the Witches, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth as being one way that shows how Shakespeare uses his plays to show his audience meaning and understanding of the nature of the world and what it is to be human.

Shakespeare uses the magical to symbolise the metaphysical world that is beyond the understanding of most people. The magical is what we do not know and what seems to happen to us through the mysterious actions of a superior force who knows much more than we do. This is shown when the witches seem to answer to some superior being [“say if, thou’dst rather hear it from our mouths, or from our masters” Hecate act IV scene 5] and are linked with the weather and time itself. This leads on to metaphysical questions about fate and free choice because the witches seem to be working for some powerful, but evil force, that knows everything in the past, present and future, including the psychological processes of Macbeth’s deepest thoughts and motivations. Another example of this is after Hecate “commends” the three witches for casting their charm, the second witch says, “By the pricking of my...

Similar Essays