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

The Role Of The Witches In Macbeth.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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)

    What is the witches' thematic significance? Shakespeare uses the three witches as a tool to carve history through influencing the evil deeds of man. The witches are the malevolent forces in the play, who seek to lead all humans away from goodness. In Macbeth, they are responsible for the moral degeneration of Macbeth throughout the play.

  2. To what extend is Roman Polanski's interpretation of the witches in keeping with Shakespeare's text?

    The witches' words and speech pattern manages to depict their personalities as being sinister, mysterious and untrustworthy it always leads us to believe that they are not part of mainstream society. This form can be recognized from its lines consisting of only eight syllables with a stressed, unstressed pattern.

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

    By this, he means that the first things he thinks of he will do. He will not give anything a second thought. It shows that he has become more focused on keeping his throne. He then goes on to show another sign of ruthlessness.

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

    spells always for spells to work they have to have some sort of rhyme to make the spell work, so that's why the witches speak by rhyming their words because of how witches rhyme to make their spells work. A great example of a rhyming spell is the classic spell,

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

    Macbeth is present at a banquet to celebrate his coronation. Macbeth has killed the King and also just sent murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance. Lady Macbeth has proved herself to be a strong and prominent influence over Macbeth up to this point.

  2. What is the role of the witches in Macbeth?

    goes on to say, "That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth", which basically means that the witches look unnatural and there not of this world. Nevertheless, the suggestion that Macbeth is somehow acquainted with the witches is again shown when he talks to them directly without fear and asks, "speak if you can;-what are you?"

  1. Discuss the role of witches in Act 1 of

    The play "Macbeth" was written between 1603 and 1606. This coincides with the accession of James VI of Scotland, to the English throne, as James I of England in 1603. James was personally terrified of witches because he believed a group of them had raised a storm to try and drown him, and then created a wax image of him to make him sicken and die.

  2. Macbeth - The Role of the Witches.

    says, "To be king stands not within the prospect Of belief" So why then would he accept the testimony of those 'imperfect speakers'? To believe that Macbeth 'came under' their influence is to deny the fundamental nature of man - free-will.

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