Ghosts and Apparitions in Macbeth College

Supernatural elements in any story intrigue, thrill, and capture the attention of readers, adding an extra dimension to the text and performance. Rather than merely to delight his readers, though, Shakespeare incorporates ghosts and apparitions into his plays to serve a very specific purpose in the advancement of the story. In some instances, Shakespeare chooses pensive soliloquys to relay the inner workings of a character; in others, he chooses otherworldly hallucinations. From Julius Caesar, where the ghost of Caesar has a brief interaction with Brutus, through Hamlet, where King Hamlet returns to his son to reveal the truth, and finally to Macbeth, where spectral images torment the ambitious king to insanity, Shakespeare continuously develops his use of the supernatural as an important method of characterization. Though the ghosts, apparitions, and hallucinations in these tragedies always serve as an inside glimpse into a character’s mental state, they do this most prominently in Macbeth.        

In Shakespeare’s earlier tragedies, Julius Caesar and Hamlet, ghosts of deceased figures that played an important role in the protagonists’ pasts return to them, and in both...

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