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Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth

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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.

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