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

Shakespeare - "Macbeth" Why Are The Witches Important in Shakespeare's play Macbeth ?

Extracts from this document...


G.C.S.E English Coursework Shakespeare: "Macbeth" Why Are The Witches Important in Shakespeare's play "Macbeth"? Between the years of 1560 and 1603 there was a fascination with witches and witchcraft. The people of Europe blamed everything that they could not explain, including milk going sour, on witches. Witch-hunts were taking place all over the continent and the world. The King of Britain, at that time, James I believed that witches were plotting against him, he often interrogated witches who were under trial for witchcraft. The interrogation commonly involved torturing. The King felt it was crucial to caution people about witches and witchcraft; hence in 1597 he published "Demonology". He immediately ordered the printing of the manuscript when he became the King of England in 1603. The playwright, Shakespeare uses an impressive dramatic device in the play, the audience came and saw the play as it was about a great hero, and the opening scene has witches in; which were thought of being evil and devil-like. ...read more.


The witches then predict that he will be Thane of Cawdor and the King of Scotland. His thoughts after the witches have vanished is that of astonishment and disbelief: "Into the air, and what seemed corporal, Melted, as breath into the wind. Would they have stayed" Banquo subsequently reassures Macbeth that he will be the Thane of Cawdor. Shortly after the predictions from the witches Macbeth is named the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth's behaviour after he is named the Thane seems to be different. Banquo is worried that the prophecies may lead to evil, after Banquo's warning Macbeth has a soliloquy, which involves him contemplating killing Duncan, the King of Scotland. He is horrified and fascinated by his thoughts but he is willing to do the sin, surprisingly. "This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion, Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs Against the use of nature? ...read more.


Eventually Macbeth agrees to fight Macduff. He dies, and as Macduff presents Macbeth's severed head to the Thanes, Malcolm is hailed the King of Scotland. In my opinion I feel that Macbeth was, in the scenes before the witches gave their prophecies, a typical man; but when the we�rd sisters tell him about his future he becomes a megalomaniac. He begins to rely on the prophecies the we�rd sisters give him, moreover he seems to be more influenced by the we�rd sisters than his wife. Lady Macbeth does support him, and she persuades him to do things that he has second thoughts about, for example, killing Duncan. I believe that the plot simply would not make sense without the witches, if they did not exist the audience would not know what Macbeth means when he refers back to the predictions and the Apparitions, furthermore the audience would not know what his motivations were. In addition, the main theme of the play would not be such a contradiction of it's self. If the witches did not say, "fair is foul, and foul is fair" the audience would not realise that Macbeth is malicious and the audience's attention would not be caught immediately. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare characterize the witches?

    3 star(s)

    Unlike the European version of witches flying, the witches in this play vanish and materialize. This makes them more sinister, as we cannot tell where they go and when they go. Shakespeare wanted to create the illusion of the witches' spirits existing around us when they vanish.

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

    Evidently it was more complicated that this, as the politics involved were to say the least simple. How would we consider witches now a days, I clearly very different to how they were thought five hundred years ago. Many at the time they were considered and referred to as inciters

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

    Firstly the sound has an echo and a harsh discord. There is a wobbly camera effect as it closes in to each mirror, which is projecting the future rather than the past. This is significant, as it helps to create an everlasting vision of the future.

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

    For example, in act one, scene one the third witch says "there to meet Macbeth". Then in act one, scene three they meet Macbeth and that's where they foretell his future about him becoming king. This makes it more dramatic because what the witches talk about is a very integral

  1. 'Macbeth is full of highly dramatic scenes. Choose two scenes and explore how Shakespeare ...

    The drama begins when Macbeth finds out that Fleance lives. He had, before been playing the role of the genial host, and then the murderers enter. Macbeth's change in state of mind can be displayed by the change in language used.

  2. Macbeth Coursework

    Thunder sounds and a second vision appears-a bloody child. The vision tells him, "Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn. The power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." This means that no man born of a woman can harm Macbeth and this reassures him.

  1. Discuss the role of witches in Act 1 of

    "I'll give thee a wind" The witches were not limited to land, but also used their power across oceans. Their magic could make simple objects water tight. "But in a sieve, I'll thither a sail" They could also become your mortal enemy if you refused them food like in the story of the sailor's wife.

  2. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The Audience Recogise The Dramatic Importance Of The Weird Sisters. Discuss ...

    The new king of England, James 1st had become intrigued and had written a book about Demonology Witch - hunts took place and many people were convicted of being witches and were executed. The witches fit in with the stereotype of witches in that time, including use of familiars like Graymalkin and Paddock.

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