The supernatural

An emblem featuring a witch dropping a frog's leg into a cauldron, representing the supernatural, one of four key themes of Macbeth

Another major theme is the supernatural - the idea there are mysterious forces controlling what is happening in our lives. The very first characters we meet are the three witches, and their prophecies drive the story forward.

In Shakespeare's time belief in witchcraft was very strong and many so-called witches were burnt at the stake. It is not surprising his audience would have taken these ideas seriously and felt Macbeth was somehow possessed.

There are lots of references to this - he is unable to say Amen (Act two, Scene two, Line 26), he has visions, he is disturbed and even thinks no one can kill him.

The final battle scene also contains many elements of the supernatural. Macbeth believes he is invincible because many of the witches' prophecies appear impossible to fulfil – and yet just as the witches predicted Birnam Wood does indeed move to Dunsinane, and Macbeth is killed by Macduff because he is not of woman born (Act five, Scene eight, Line 31).