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The Role Of The Witches In Macbeth.

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The Role Of The Witches In Macbeth Macbeth is a play created by William Shakespeare. He wrote the play in order to please King James I by entertaining his host, King Christian of Denmark. The play is strongly related to witchcraft and demonology. Audiences of its time believed without a doubt that witches did exist, unlike today where it is thought to be a myth by most. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I witchcraft was recognised by law. In 1564 a law was passed making a murder by witchcraft punishable by death, thus acknowledging witches and their supernatural powers. This law was regularly enforced and in Scotland alone it is estimated that 8000 witches burned to death between 1564 and 1603. In 1604 an additional law was passed in Scotland, which stated that if anyone found guilty of practising witchcraft in any manner, should be executed. James I was acquainted with this phenomenon, when a coven of witches practised against him on a return voyage from Denmark to Scotland in 1590. He was almost shipwrecked. In the aftermath of his ordeal he published a treatise named Demonology in 1597. Shakespeare was quite sure that he could capture the minds of the King and play on his emotions by using witchcraft within his play. The witches open the play in Act one scene one on a deserted place with disruptive weather. ...read more.


This creates an eerie effect. The witches also speak in riddles and rhymes, which creates a mysterious aura around them. " Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air." Shakespeare incorporates alliteration of 'f' into this rhyming couplet. It is unusual for this style to be used in everyday speech, which once again demonstrates that the witches are unlike the rest of humanity. The witches chant, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," which means that they believe right, 'fair', is equivalent to wrong, 'foul'. This implies that they have no conscience and are inhuman. Having no conscience would suggest that they have no morals, allowing them to commit the worst of crimes without guilt. This makes the witches purely evil. In this section of the essay I shall be comparing and studying the witches' in Roman Polanski's version of Macbeth. There are several alterations to the witches' part. This may be in-order for the witches to have a more significant effect on a modern-day audience and so it makes it easier for people to understand. In act one scene one Polanski opens with the witches on a foggy beach, whereas it says in the text that the witches are at an open place with thunder and lightning. This gives a more unsure eeriness to the scene, whereas thunder and lightning has a startling effect on the audience. ...read more.


Polanski uses this feature, because it would have a more explicit message with a modern audience. At the end of this scene the witches do not vanish, but go into an underground layer. This suggests that the witches dwell underground like animals, unlike the rest of humanity who have evolved into living in buildings above the surface. Polanski uses the special effects in which film can be shot to add effect to the play. The camera shot in act one scene one begins with a panoramic view of the beach, showing how vast and isolated it is. The different camera shots fade together, continuing with the eerie effect. The camera zooms in for a close up of the props and visual effects for a more dramatic viewing. The scene ends with the witches shuffling into the distance, once again adding to the vastness of the beach. In scene three the camera pans around the rocks onto the witches. This gives the feeling of unexpectedness, not knowing what is around the corner. During this scene the camera doesn't stay focused on any particular character, making the situation seem tense. I believe that Polanski's realisation of the Shakespeare's play Macbeth is a good interpretation and it gives a modern audience a better understanding of the witches' characters. Polanski uses the advantage of visual screenplay and special effects to portray the witches in an evil unnatural light, which would be difficult to create through words. ...read more.

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