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Explore the impact of the witches in Act One Scenes One and Three

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Kelly Nicholas Explore the impact of the witches in Act One Scenes One and Three The aim of this essay is to explore what impact the witches had in Act I, scenes I and III. This will be achieved by analysing the setting and atmosphere, considering the language used by the witches, the audience and the main events which occur. One of the most important things that Shakespeare had to think about when writing his plays where his audience. We can see that he has chosen specific words and phrases to impress, shock, frighten and keep their attention. It must be realised, that the majority of people watching his plays, were not very wealthy, and had to stand up during them. This meant Shakespeare had to keep their attention through the whole of the play. The audience during Elizabethan time were much more rowdy and more active then the audience in modern day theatres. If they were not impressed or satisfied they would heckle or throw things such as vegetables at the characters and also 'boo'. Macbeth was based very much on what was happening around the time which Shakespeare wrote it. Such things as, witches, had a major impact upon this play. Throughout Shakespeare's life, witches and witchcraft was the object of morbid and fevered fascination. Another reason Shakespeare used witches in this play are because he was aware King James I would be seeing it and knew it would impress. ...read more.


These are the familiars calling to them, which again emphasises the fact that they are witches. When the witches are leaving, they begin to chant. It is also noticed that through the play, it tends to be only them who rhyme. Their chant 'Fair is foul and foul is fair, Hover through the filthy air' is again a paradox when they say 'fair is foul and foul is fair' which again confuses the audience. It is also shocking to the audience as it basically means 'good is bad and bad is good', and it emphasises how evil they are. Shakespeare has also used alliteration within the sentence through the letter 'f' 'fair, foul, foul, fair and filthy which makes the sentence stand out and creates an atmosphere of eeriness. 'Filthy air', suggests a link between later scenes when 'Macbeth' murders the king, and the blood which does not seem to disappear from his hands. This scene is also made up of short sentences, which gives the effect that the witches are in a rush and are meeting quickly. Looking at Scene III, Thunder is again used, which will be making the audience once again deadly silent and expecting the witches to appear. It is also set in a Heath, which is again unnatural and links to the witches. Shakespeare uses tripling in the fifth line 'munched, and munched, and munched' which emphasises the motion of the person who was eating the chestnuts. ...read more.


'Macbeth' then makes a speech about how it is ridiculous to be told he may be thane of Cawdor as he is still alive, yet alone be the King. The witches then vanish, which once more, grabs the audiences' attention and leaves them puzzled as to where they have disappeared to. Later, Angus and Ross appear, to tell 'Macbeth' that the King has asked for him to become the Thane of Cawdor. This shows that the witches' predictions are coming true, and makes 'Macbeth' realise he might actually become the King. When he is told this he says "what, can the devil speak true?'. This shows him referring to the witches as devils, as he believes they are not real. Through the whole of these two scenes, 'Macbeth' does not once quote them as being witches. 'Macbeth' later says, 'If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir" meaning that if fate says he will become king, then he will leave it to fate to decide what happens. Therefore saying that he will do nothing about what he has been told. In Scene III, line 7, Shakespeare uses the simile "and like a rat without a tail" to create a picture of what is happening. There are many Soliloquies used within these two scenes such as the one by 'Macbeth' in lines 127-141 which is describing how 'Macbeth' is feeling about what he has just been told. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The writer shows awareness of the importance of commenting in detail on language use, and successfully picks out such features as rhyme, simile, alliteration and onomatopoeia. However the essay is less successful at describing the effects of these techniques, and a tendency to misquote or offer incomplete quotation does not help in the analysis.
The essay would benefit from a clearer and tighter structure, leading to a well-considered and more powerful conclusion.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 01/01/2012

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