Exploring the Supernatural in Netflix's “Macbeth” | Teen Ink

Exploring the Supernatural in Netflix's “Macbeth”

March 8, 2023
By SofiaL BRONZE, Pomfret, Connecticut
SofiaL BRONZE, Pomfret, Connecticut
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

As the final episode of Netflix's historical drama “Macbeth,” based on William Shakespeare's original play “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” approaches, fans and critics alike excitedly await the end of an incredible journey. The series has captivated audiences with its sophisticated characters, fast-paced and dramatically shifting storylines, and thought-provoking underlying messages since the first episode. As the story comes to a close, we are left with many unanswered mysteries and the anticipation of how everything will be resolved.


The dark and twisted course of greed and power is explored in the thrilling and compelling new television series “Macbeth.” The plot of the story, which is set in ancient Scotland, centers on Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, attempting to take the throne from the rightful king. Shakespeare's classic tragedy is brought to life in a new and contemporary fashion in this production.


As yet another spectacular production by the renowned William Shakespeare, “Macbeth,” like other Shakespeare TV productions, explores modern social issues through an intriguing plot set in ancient times. Moreover, Shakespeare adds supernatural elements to his shows to enhance the drama and suspense. Likewise, the supernatural plays a part in the underlying messages of the recent TV series “Macbeth.”


The show opens with an epic battle scene introducing Macbeth, the worthy Thane of Glamis, who fought bravely against his enemies. Then, it suddenly switches to a scene of three eerie women conspiring in a dreary, dark storm, each with skinny lips and a beard. These three women are the Weird Sisters, and they are three powerful and wicked witches who are on their way to meet Macbeth on a hill. As they walk, they make cryptic observations about the weather, the future, and their plans. They discuss their upcoming meeting with Macbeth as well as their previous encounter with Banquo, Macbeth’s friend. As the witches weave a spell and await Macbeth's arrival, the stage is set for a dreary and ominous encounter.


As predicted by the witches, Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and, eventually, King of Scotland, while Banquo will beget a line of kings. Intrigued by the witches’ predictions, Macbeth and Banquo continue their journey, but Macbeth becomes obsessed with his excessive ambition and begins plotting King Duncan’s overthrow in order to fulfill the witches’ prophecy.


On the one hand, “Macbeth” explores the relationship between predetermined fate and free will through the supernatural depiction of the Weird Sisters. The show indicates that certain events are predestined and beyond the control of humans. The prophecies of the witches, as well as Macbeth's awareness that he is being carried toward his destiny, give support to the concept of predetermined fate.


However, the show also emphasizes the importance of free will in shaping one's future. Macbeth makes a series of decisions that ultimately cause chaos and, as the title of the original play on which this show is based suggests, lead to his own demise. Among these decisions are the assassination of King Duncan and additional murders committed in order to maintain his power.


There are only three true witches in the show. Macbeth allows the seed of an idea offered by the Weird Sisters—that he would become king—to grow into a devouring, catastrophic hunger for power. It is the kind of hunger that leads you to kill your friends, murder children, and cause havoc in pursuit of something that will only exist as long as you live.


But what if a fourth witch was present? The most powerful of them all? It is not Hecate that I am addressing here, but rather the seductive nature of power. This most powerful witch, who plants an evil seed in everyone she meets, shapes the fate of the show's tragic hero, Macbeth. Throughout the first four episodes, people around Macbeth who are acting in their own self-interest constantly encourage him to act on his worst impulses. The plot of this show sends the message that not only Macbeth has the flaw of culpability. Power evokes desire even in people who have just a tiny opportunity to wield it. Through using the Weird Sisters, who are characters with magical abilities, to advance the plot, “Macbeth” exposes the flaws of everyone in the show and everyone watching.


Furthermore, we are introduced to a CGI character made with advanced special effects in the third episode of the show—the ghost of Banquo, whom Macbeth brutally killed to secure his throne. The evolution of Macbeth as a complex character is laid out in front of this show's viewers through this supernatural occurrence that only Macbeth appears to be aware of. It illustrates Macbeth's guilt-induced fear and psychological deterioration.


The occurrence of Banquo's ghost at the banquet marks a major turning point in Macbeth's character development. The ghost is a representation of Macbeth's guilt and horror, and it emphasizes the extent to which his actions have corrupted his conscience. The fact that the ghost of Banquo is only visible to Macbeth also emphasizes Macbeth's increasing sense of paranoia and disconnection from reality. The existence of the ghost also illustrates Macbeth's descent into insanity and tyranny. Macbeth's reaction to the ghost reveals his increasing madness and loss of control, as seen by his reaction to seeing the ghost – yelling, pulling his sword, and alarming his guests.


Moreover, the ghost also signifies the aftermath of Macbeth's crimes. Banquo was a noble and honorable man, and his death was the result of Macbeth's unquenchable ambition and desire for power. The ghost is a supernatural presence from which Macbeth cannot escape, regardless of how hard he tries.


Overall, “Macbeth” is a TV show that effectively combines its supernatural elements with its underlying themes of social issues and its character analysis of the protagonist, Macbeth. The use of the uncanny in the show to convey themes of fate and free will, the dangers of power, and to move the plot adds complexity and depth to Macbeth's character and the story as a whole. The supernatural also adds classic Gothic features to this already gloomy and dark story about ambition, betrayal, and death. Furthermore, to improve the overall viewing experience, the series also uses beautiful visuals, captivating actors, and fitting background music.

As we all wait for the last episode of this series and wonder what will happen to all of the characters in the story, I recommend that all lovers of historical fiction shows and Gothic stories watch this riveting and captivating drama.


The supernatural components of "Macbeth" play an important part in moving the story forward, emphasizing the concept of fate and destiny, exploring the dangers of ambition and control, as well as aiding the main character's evolution throughout the episodes. Shakespeare emphasizes the Elizabethan belief in the presence of magical powers and the fear of the unknown, as well as the consequences of ambition and guilt, through the depiction of supernatural beings and occurrences.

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A review on Netflix's historical drama 'MacBeth'

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