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Macbeth Essay Witches Role

The witches, or "weird sisters," as they are often called, play a pivotal role in Macbeth. Macbeth himself is obsessed with their prophecies, and repeatedly consults with them. The witches also represent a struggle between the supernatural and the natural world that is at the heart of Macbeth. On the one hand, it is Macbeth's actions that create the bloody chaos of the play. On the other, it is the witches' prophecy that first...

The witches, or "weird sisters," as they are often called, play a pivotal role in Macbeth. Macbeth himself is obsessed with their prophecies, and repeatedly consults with them. The witches also represent a struggle between the supernatural and the natural world that is at the heart of Macbeth. On the one hand, it is Macbeth's actions that create the bloody chaos of the play. On the other, it is the witches' prophecy that first motivates him to consider murder as a way to the throne, and there is little doubt that they are using their dark powers to influence the proceedings. Hecate herself predicts correctly that Macbeth will come to the witches to learn his future, and says that she will use her magic to create apparitions that will push him toward his destruction:

[I]Shall raise such artificial sprites 
As by the strength of their illusion 
Shall draw him on to his confusion. 
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear 
His hopes ’bove wisdom, grace, and fear. 

The "artificial sprites" are the apparitions that the witches conjure for Macbeth that inform him that he cannot die except by a man not woman born and when Birnam Wood (a forest) marches on his castle. These predictions make Macbeth overconfident and eager to seek battle with his opponents. In this way, Hecate and the witches directly influence the actions of Macbeth. To be sure, he did not have to act on their prophecies, but when he did, his death was sealed. This conflict between man and the supernatural runs throughout the play, and is one of its most important themes. The witches are also instrumental in creating the overall tone and mood to the play, notably in the first act, when they inform the audience amid the crash of thunder that "fair is foul/foul is fair." 

The Role of the Witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay examples

1319 Words6 Pages

I found responding to the play ‘Macbeth’ difficult because of the era it was written in. Shakespeare wrote the play between 1603-1606 when attitudes were completely different to the attitudes of society today, in particular, widespread belief in witchcraft. In contrast to today, when not many people believe in such things. They used to be feared. They were considered evil, ugly and vindictive. They did not belong to this world, they were ‘supernatural’, with supernatural powers. In the play the witches plant ideas into Macbeth’s head, which affects his inner soul. He changes from an honourable soldier to a vindictive murderer. We are introduced to Macbeth in the beginning when he is returning from the battlefield where he proved himself a…show more content…

However, I fully appreciate that the language of Shakespeare contains a richness of meaning that was fully understood at the time and that one must spend some time in decoding the meaning today.

The language of the witches is even more mysterious and cryptic, to reflect their mysterious and cryptic nature. In act 1, scene 1, the first witch says line 1 “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, light or in rain?” This is not the English that we use today and makes it difficult to understand. But it does have a poetic feel to it, which shows that Shakespeare was also a poet. This is reinforced because of words that he made up, for example “I come, Graymalkin!”. He tended to use rhyming words more with the witches to suggest that they have magical powers, which the other characters do not. In Act 1, scene 1 line 4 the witches will meet “when the battle’s lost and won”, demonstrating the ambiguity in their speech. The battle is going to be ‘lost’ and ‘won’ suggesting they have no affiliation to one side or the other, they are indifferent to the outcome and the subsequent loss of life. They are monsters!

The language that the main characters use is different from that of the witches and seems to show that they are upper class people. For example, in Act, scene 3, line 69 Macbeth says “Stay, you imperfect speakers. Tell me more”. This not only demonstrates Macbeth’s eloquent way of speaking but also that the witch’s speech is ‘imperfect’. They

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