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Analyse the role and presentation of the witches in Macbeth with reference to Shakespeares use of language, his historical and contemporary influences and the themes addressed by the play.

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Introduction

Kayleigh Edwards. Analyse the role and presentation of the witches in Macbeth with reference to Shakespeare's use of language, his historical and contemporary influences and the themes addressed by the play. The aim of this essay is to demonstrate the role that the witches played in Macbeth's downfall. To touch upon their manipulative natures that only seemed to add fuel to the fire of the weak and power hungry personality that Macbeth seemed to posses .Shakespeare wrote this play in 1605-1606 a time where witchcraft was very much believed and where the audience would have had a great fear of ghosts, spells and the practicing's of evil. The play is set in eleventh century Scotland and is loosely based on real historical figures taken from 'The chronicles of Scotland' but the story is fiction written with King James the first in mind as he had recently fallen victim to an assassination attempt (which could of caused chaos just as King Duncan's assassination does in the play) and carried an avid interest in witchcraft and the persecution of witches. The play itself is a complicated web of deceit and lies filled with double entendres and a deep insight into the human mind and conscience. ...read more.

Middle

They instigate the happenings of the rest of the play, they know Macbeths ambitions and they exploit them. They sow the seeds with their self fulfilling prophecies for their own amusement. As Macbeth and Banquo approach the witches they speak their first set of 'prophecies' to them saying that Macbeth will go on to be 'Thane of Cawdor' and then 'King thereafter'. They are praying on Macbeth's weakness and hopes of power. It becomes known in Scene five which direction the play is going to go in. Lady Macbeth enters by reading her letter in prose. The rest of the characters with exception to servants such as the porter all speak in blank verse. This gives an air of class and nobility. By making Lady Macbeths first few paragraphs prose this immediately lowers her class letting it be known that she does not possess a noble character. Lady Macbeths ruthless character is portrayed in this scene by her references to Macbeth 'Yet I do fear thy nature; It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness' saying she would have to 'Pour my spirits in thine ear' to achieve the goal of Macbeth becoming king. In this scene Lady Macbeth speaks alone to the audience giving the scene dramatic irony and the audience the edge of knowing something the rest the characters do not. ...read more.

Conclusion

Roman Polanski's 1971 version of the tragedy Macbeth focuses more on the witches than many other versions that have been made. The witches are introduced in the first scene wearing black. The audience will automatically associate black with death and the dark and evil. The witches are more real in Polanski's version than in Shakespeare's play. In Polanski's version they do not disappear and reappear a mystical place whenever the feel. They enter a dark cave like real beings would. Polanski uses this to show the audience that they are real beings embodied by demonic forces. In the first scene the witches spit into a hole. On our first encounter with Macbeth he does the same. This is a link between them; Polanski is showing that real beings can become overcome by evil and end up just as the witches have. The play is still attractive to an audience in the twenty-first century as there is still power hungry leaders whose ambition will stop at nothing. They will have people around them goading them to make sure they obtain their goals and manipulating them to their own needs. The play reveals that when good versus evil, good will win and that evil will only result in chaos and the undoing of all that takes part in it. ...read more.

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