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Discuss the importance of the witches in the play Macbeth.

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John Cooper Page 1 4/30/2007 Discuss the importance of the witches in the play Macbeth In Shakespeare's life the people were very religious and almost all believed in heaven and hell and lived in fear of damnation. Also there was a very strong belief in good and bad sprits, witches and witchcraft. These were extremely feared by the people. Anyone who was accused of being a witch was trailed and if convicted was executed by hanging or burning at the stake. In the reign of Elizabeth I 1500 to 1603 hundreds of people were tried and executed almost all were women. Witches were believed to have powers, which were able to predict the future, fly, bring on night, time cause storms and fogs, kill animals and sail in sieves. They were able to curse enemies with diseases, cause nightmares and sterility; they could also take possession of any individual they chose. ...read more.


In 1590 his ship was in a storm and almost sank. He made accusations that a group of witches tried to kill him. He said Agnes Sampson, one of the witches had collected toad venom, christened a cat, tied parts of a dead man's body to it, sailed out to sea in a sieve and thrown the cat and the body parts over board to raise a storm to sink the king's ship. King James personally interrogated one of the accused witches and also he started to investigate other witchcraft cases. In 1597 he published a book on witchcraft called Demonology. With they're being such a dramatic opening scene to the play, such as when the three witches enter and there are sound effects such as thunder and lightning. This would grab the attention of the audience and calm and settle them. ...read more.


Macbeth does not believe that this prophecy until this happens. The third witch says "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter." Later Ross tells Macbeth that the king has made him with the Thane of Cawdor and now as two of the prophecies have come true he starts to believe that the third will to and so in that started off Macbeth's actions. Later on when Macbeth knows that Duncan is leaving his thrown to his oldest son because Macbeth is so disappointed that the third prophecy didn't come true. Macbeth takes it upon him self to make it true and so he murders of King Duncan and the murder of the two guards. Later on in the play Macbeth goes to see the witches again. The witches give Macbeth three prophecies "Beware Thane of Fife" This prophecy is true as it is Mac duff who kills Macbeth, but to stop Macduff being any threat Macbeth has Macduff's family killed, so the witches were indirectly responsible ...read more.

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