Macbeth 

In Act 1 Scene 1, psychological power is presented through the duplicity of the witches. The witches seem to have supernatural control over elements of nature, such as “lightning” and “thunder” as they aren’t even the slightest bit afraid to meet during these harsh conditions. The witches speak in rhyming couplets, demonstrating to the Jacobean audience, how spells are meant to be chanted, juxtaposing their light-hearted tone to their sinister prophecies. This links to scene 3 where the witches present their prophecies to Macbeth, claiming he “shalt be king hereafter”. It was this scene in which Macbeth first got the idea of murdering Duncan, thus highlighting the power of the witches over Macbeth’s mind.  Macbeth’s weakness is again presented through his soliloquy in scene 7, where he’s contemplating his decision of killing Duncan. Although his intentions of “success” and “assassination” are clear, his words “were”, “but” and “if” bring about a sense of confusion and turmoil reflecting in his trail of thoughts. Likewise, we see Macbeth’s lack of power in act 3 scene 4, where he sees Banquo’s ghost at a banquet after it is reported to him that they were successful in killing Banquo but failed to kill Fleance as he fled. Throughout the banquet, Banquo’s ghost comes and goes, as did the dagger. Macbeth’s line “You know your own degrees”, indicates to the audience the rank system of the Jacobean era.  However, the system has been suspended due to the usurpation of the throne by Macbeth. This links to paganism and the divine right of kings. It was believed that the king was chosen by God, but when Macbeth murders Duncan and Banquo he goes against the divine right of kings and the lords choice. Macbeth is manipulated by the witches for the second time in act 4 scene 1, which shows a repetition in the structure of the play, when the witches tell him three more prophecies, involving Macduff’s danger to Macbeth as well as the fact that he can’t be killed by any man “of woman born”. Almost identical to the opening act, Macbeth’s is put in a position where his destiny is being questioned, and he is left to decide what to do with those three prophecies. This brings us to the tragic hero’s tragic flaw: ambition. No matter how many families he has to destroy and how many men he has to kill, his hunger and desire for power and the position of the throne are what leads to his downfall. Lady Macbeth possesses an immense amount of verbal power over her husband throughout act 1 scenes 5 and 7. The fact that she is alone on stage during this scene, grants the audience access to her innermost thoughts and desires, filled with imagery of cruelty and viciousness. Towards the end of the scene, Lady Macbeth literally begs the spirits to “unsex” her, thicken her blood, and turn her milk to “gall”/bitterness. Here, we see how Shakespeare has deliberately created similarities between Lady Macbeth’s(scene 5) and Macbeth’s(scene 7) soliloquies, creating a powerful verbal bond between the two. After reading Macbeth’s letter, she claims that he is too full of “human kindness”. She then calls him a “coward” and compares him to the well-known proverbial “poor cat”. “When you durst do it, then you were a man”, she says, insulting his manhood, by telling him that he is only considered a man after he commits the murder. We see how Macbeth is convinced to commit a murder which was against his own will. After his manhood being questioned, Macbeth’s main aim becomes to prove his wife wrong, which he then does by murdering Duncan. The fact that Macbeth was manipulated by Lady Macbeth, a woman, contrasts with the views of the people in the Jacobean era, who strongly believed in patriarchy and that women were the weaker sex.