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

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Introduction

Amandeep Ghuman MACBETH COURSEWORK 1 The inclusion of witches in Macbeth heightens the dramatic impact of the play because in the time William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth many of the general public did not know to much about witches, so when witches were included in Macbeth many people were shocked which made the play more dramatic because many people did not expect witches to be included in the play. Also witches in Shakespeare's time were treated very poorly In some cases witches were pricked with a special needle to see if they were immune from pain so these type of cases heighten the dramatic impact of the play because the general public knew how witches were treated and how powerful they were. The introduction of witches at this time was particularly dramatic because people knew how vicious they were because at that time pamphlets were put on sale describing the lurid details of witchcraft trials, so people knew how vile witches were. This made it particularly dramatic because witches were really the centre of attention at that time as convicted witches were being executed so putting witches in a play would have been very dramatic. In the text "witches and witchcraft" it says "Witches could predict the future, fly, sail in sieves, bring on night in daytime, causes fogs and tempests, and kill animals". This shows introducing witches at this time would have been massively dramatic because there were people who would have been appalled to see witches in a play because of all the attention that was on witches at that time and what people knew about which was that they were mighty women who had the power to do anything. ...read more.

Middle

Also beginning the play with thunder and lightning builds the play up to be very dramatic, so starting of with thunder and lightning gives the watching audience an indication of what's to come in the rest of the play and it also builds the witches character for the play giving the watching audience another indication of how the witches are going to behave like in the rest of the play, which is constructing evil things. The witches say all sort of things to each other in the scenes they are in, for example in act one, scene 1 they are all saying to each other when and where they will be meeting Macbeth to foretell his future. In act one, scene three they are saying to each other how they will foretell Macbeth's future and all of them are just preparing themselves to talk to Macbeth and are just counting down until Macbeth comes for example when the third witch says "a drum! A drum! Macbeth doth come". This showing that she is counting down for Macbeth's arrival. When they talk to the other characters in the play they mainly talk to Macbeth and Banquo on the heath in act one, scene three and mostly what they have to said to Macbeth and Banquo is foretelling Macbeth's future, for example when they say, "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter". ...read more.

Conclusion

Certain animals are mentioned by the witches in order for the witches to get a rhyme going, so when the witches say "toe of a frog and tongue of a dog", these animals are used because frog and dog rhyme, so in order for the spell to work the spell has to rhyme so that's why certain animals are used. The animals represent a spell used by the witches, so all the animal imagery used in act one, scene four represent all these animals going into a cauldron and getting boiled and baked. In conclusion, I think the witches do heighten the dramatic impact of the play because at that time witches were portrayed very heavily in the local press so putting witches in a play at that time would have been very dramatic because of the attention that was on witches and the consequences of a woman being convicted as a witch at the time Macbeth was first performed. I think that the inclusion of witches in Macbeth does not really heighten the dramatic impact of the play for today's audience because most of the general public today are not as fickle as people in Macbeth's time and because not many people today believe in witches or witchcraft, so witches in Macbeth would not really make Macbeth more dramatic on today's audience. Also since Macbeth wad first performed, many television programmes, films and plays have included witches in their production so today's audience wouldn't really feel that surprised to see witches in Macbeth, so therefore not heightening the dramatic impact of the play. ...read more.

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