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The presentation of the witches in the opening scenes is crucial to the atmosphere of Macbeth. Compare how Act 1 scenes (i) and (iii) are presented in two different versions of the play. Which do you feel has the greater dramatic impact? Explain why.

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MACBETH COURSEWORK The presentation of the witches in the opening scenes is crucial to the atmosphere of Macbeth. Compare how Act 1 scenes (i) and (iii) are presented in two different versions of the play. Which do you feel has the greater dramatic impact? Explain why. Macbeth was written by Shakespeare in 1606 for King James I. In Shakespeare's day witchcraft was a principal issue and King James I was reasonably interested in this topic so Shakespeare wrote Macbeth and dedicated it to him. It is said that Shakespeare's people had great belief of witchcraft in some form and witches were thought to be the devil's angels. People were extremely frightened by witches' supernatural powers that they had in their blood and always thought of the worst they could do. In the 1600s witches were threats to society and many dreaded the evil which may have been aroused from them. Any person who had been suspected of witchcraft would have been burnt at the stake. This explains how witches were related to the devil: fire. In Macbeth, the witches play a vital and crucial role as their reputation made them quite fearful. On one hand this play was to create entertainment of suspense and murder for the viewer. However, in contrast to this, Macbeth teaches the moral lesson that ambition can be destructive to a person. Hence, Macbeth's ambition helps him to kill. In today's society witchcraft is nothing more than an old wives tale. ...read more.


In Act 1 scene (iii) the setting is at the same place as scene (i). The three witches are kneeling on the dirty ground in a triangular formation. Again the symbol of three is emphasised. The camera slowly zooms in on the first witch, who is the predominant witch and she stands at the top of the triangle. I know she is the main witch as she speaks more frequently than the other two witches, in both scenes. We gain a better image of her being the most predominant as she shocks us by speaking of peculiar prophecies. At this stage the first witch loses some of her power in our minds by saying, "Though his bark cannot be lost". This means that the witches can injure a human but have no power over killing anyone. Here we find her less threatening but she gains her strength back by revealing, "Here I have a pilot's thumb". At this exact moment comes a drum in the background, a symbol that Macbeth and Banquo are approaching. Macbeth and Banquo's introduction is in fact immediately after the drumbeat. The repetition of the phrase fair and foul is spoken by Macbeth himself as they enter the wasteland where the witches wait for him. Macbeth says this, meaning that the weather is bad but the winning of the battle was good. Macbeth was absolutely shocked by the sight of the witches standing before him. Banquo gives us a better insight to the witches' appearance, "So wither'd and so wild". ...read more.


This is where the evidence of psychic powers is shown. The use of tarot cards make the witches a little bit more believable, but still I was not convinced. The "weird sisters" are no longer as frightening and atrocious as they were in the first version. Overall I feel that Ann Ross Muir's production was of very little dramatic impact as it was a little too modern. The setting, the witches or the speaking of the prophecies was not dramatic and had little effect on my mind. I was quite saddened by her production. The atmosphere was not anywhere near to that of the BBC version. Sadly I feel that a modern version of this play is just not dramatic enough for any viewer to have much interest in. I feel that the BBC version of Macbeth had a more dramatic impact on the viewer and it was also more interesting to watch as the witches were scarier, the atmosphere was more upsetting to the mind and I personally feel that sticking to the original text is much more effective. The presentation of the witches was out of this world and they were everything I would have thought a witch to be when I was a little girl. Their meetings in gloomy and foul weather conditions show the real character of Macbeth; a dangerous man. The way the witches are presented is fabulous and the director has placed three outstanding characters in my mind I just know I will always remember. ?? ?? ?? ?? Cathy McKerr 12A3 English Shakespeare Coursework- Macbeth and the presentation of the witches 1 ...read more.

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