• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare some time between 1603 and 1606 and is set in Scotland around 1040. The time it was written coincides with the reign of King James the First of England. King James showed a great interest in witches and powers of the supernatural and Macbeth was arguably written to impress the king in what were violent times. Shakespeare used witches as pivotal characters to create a catalyst for the action that was included in the play. Another reason for him to use witches in this way is that it is an attention grabber and will interest people, at the time Macbeth was written people believed that witches had many powers, they were thought to be able to change form into things like cats, owls and other animals, they were thought to be able to change or influence, and predict the weather and they were also thought to be able to bring disease and misery upon people. It was thought that when witches transformed they became incomplete animals and this is shown when the first witch says "and like a rat without a tail". ...read more.


The fact he's been told three things could also be significant as in the play three is a number of things used a lot, there are three witches, three apparitions later in the play, three prophecies for Macbeth and after hearing what the witches have said to Macbeth, Banquo demands to learn his future, that his offspring will become king but is suspicious of the witches powers, this attention to detail shows how important evil is in the play. When Banquo is told this, Macbeth reacts badly, he questions what the witches are saying but the witches vanish without a word, Macbeth is left wanting to know more and his reaction has been spotted by Banquo. When Ross and Lennox come and bring the news to Macbeth that he has become the Thane of Glamis Macbeth's thoughts are confirmed and he is excited about the fact that seeing as that has come true he is going to become King, Banquo is not so sure. The witches seemed to be praising both Macbeth and Banquo, which shows how they are enjoying the consequences of what they have said, by vanishing when Macbeth was questioning them they show how they are in control and they don't have to tell anyone anything. ...read more.


This is a quick decision compared to how long it took him to think about whether or not to kill Duncan. It takes a lot to perform all the special effects needed in this scene, noises, lights combined with purpose shadow, trap doors and curtain closing is all involved in achieving a good atmosphere and in creating the evil beings. At the end of the play Lady Macbeth goes completely mad and commits suicide, and Macbeth's nightmare comes true and he is informed that Birnan Wood is moving towards him, Malcolm's army advances on Dunsinane and Macbeth is finally shown up by the witches as the prophecies he thought could never come true, have finally happened. Macbeth is the only person who can be held responsible for his downfall, he shouldn't have trusted the witches and have presumed things so much, all shows that you shouldn't try and change the future because it can't be done. The witches only brought out Macbeth's evil side, but it was there to be brought out and it didn't really take a lot. It shows that Macbeth was very self absorbed and was not really loyal to his kingdom. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Macbeth essays

  1. Macbeth - Act 4 Scene 1: Discuss the Dramatic Potential in this scene.

    The above quote shows that the witches are trying to turn Macbeth from a good person to an evil one. The witches tell Macbeth about his future through the apparitions. These apparitions are equivocations, and are shown to Macbeth. The second and third apparitions are presented to Macbeth in the form of riddles.

  2. How does Shakespeare present the witches in an interesting and dramatic way?

    After a few preliminary exchanges of speech, the witches say three very important things, which to me are the most important things in the play, as it is the beginning of Macbeth's down fall: 'FIRST WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Glamis! SECOND WITCH: All hail, Macbeth!

  1. What is the role of the witches in Macbeth?

    The first witch continues to say that the sailor's wife's husband has gone to a port on his ship as the captain and that she'll make that sailor's life hell. Then the second witch says I will help you by giving wind and then the first witch replies you are very kind.

  2. Discuss the role of witches in Act 1 of

    The suspected persons arms and legs were tied behind their back before the victim was positioned upon a ducking stool. The ducking stool was placed by the side of a river or pond. The stool would be slowly lowered into the vast area of water.

  1. Macbeth - Do the witches heighten the dramatic impact of the play?

    This creates more drama because with thunder and lightning theirs more tension created around the witches and it also gives the setting a wickedness feel about it. The setting also makes the witches look more evil, because you always associate thunder and lightning with evil things so when the witches

  2. The Role Of The Witches In Macbeth.

    The witches almost have hypnotic powers over Macbeth. The witches then vanish. The witches show their extreme unnatural abilities in this scene, by first casting a spell, then predicting the future for Macbeth and finally vanishing. Shakespeare portrays the witches as unnatural from the beginning as they meet away from humanity in thunder and lightning.

  1. Macbeth - The Role of the Witches.

    for if he had no such desire, nothing would have changed his basic nature, and turned him into a murderer. So why did the witches target Macbeth, and not Banquo? He was just as unlikely to be given the position of Thane of Cawdor and the crown.

  2. Macbeth - Warwickshire 1606.

    All three of these replies would be better said as though the witches' minds are already with their familiars. The witches say to Macbeth when he first meets them "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis", "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor" and "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work