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Analysis of the witches in macbeth

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Introduction

"By starting the play with witches Shakespeare creates the atmosphere he wants for this play; an impression of mysterious and frightening forces lurking beneath the surface of life." - John Peck and Martin Coyle John Peck and Martin Coyle's quote highlights the importance of the role of the witches in Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth". The witches influence Macbeth and tempt out the evil that he already possessed. They create the eerie atmosphere due to their supernatural presence and evil thoughts. Shakespeare presents them as ugly, old women that feed upon evil. Even though they persuade Macbeth to do evil, they only encourage him; they do not place the evil thoughts in his head as he already possessed these. In the 17th century the audience would have been fascinated yet frightened of these supernatural beings and so they would have been very attentive whilst viewing this play. Shakespeare's presentation of the witches would have been very dramatic and effective for a 17th century audience. Shakespeare kept his audience's attention by using impressive language and imagery and by his use of exciting staging methods that captivated the audience's interest. The play was written by William Shakespeare in 1606. Macbeth is based upon "Chronicles of Scotland" by Raphael Holinshed but Shakespeare made some changes to try and make it more interesting and exciting. Macbeth was performed for King of England, James the first; in August 1606 because the play is about James' ancestors, Banquo and Fleance, James inherited his throne through Banquo and Fleance. Shakespeare knew that James was very interested in witchcraft as he had written a book about it therefore witchcraft plays a large part in Macbeth. In the 17th century the society largely believed in witchcraft and the darker world. Shakespeare knew his audience's interests and included witches to capture the interest of King James and the rest of his audience. Anyone old or young could be accused of being a witch. ...read more.

Middle

this is also personification. "Were such things here, as we do speak about? -or have we eaten on the insane root That takes the reason prisoner?" This shows Macbeth and Banquos' disbelief over what the just witnessed, they are wondering whether the witches really exist. They then begin to think about the witches' prediction, "Your children shall be Kings. You shall be King." Shakespeare again uses paradox and riddle to cause confusion in the second prediction: "lesser that Macbeth, and greater," And in the prophecy he uses repetition: "So all hail Macbeth and Banquo! Banquo and Macbeth all hail" These prediction's that the witches make would capture the audience's attention as they can sense that Macbeth is going to become more powerful and they begin to wonder how powerful he will become and what the end result will be. The witches do not appear in the play until later on but throughout we can see there influences such as in Act 1 Scene 5. In this scene lady Macbeth reads the letter written to her by her husband, Macbeth. While reading the letter lady Macbeth calls on evil spirits to help her persuade Macbeth to do whatever he can to become king, "And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty!" This shows that the witches may also have influence over Lady Macbeth as she has evil thoughts. At the beginning of this scene, Lady Macbeth speaks in a soliloquy after reading her letter from Macbeth. Her soliloquy shows us how evil she really is, "Yet I do fear thy nature. It is too full o' the milk of human kindness," She wishes to influence Macbeth because she believes he is too weak by himself to become king so he needs her influence, "He thee hither!-That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue," This shows her similarity to the witches, the witches can only influence Macbeth because he already had evil ...read more.

Conclusion

The witches' cauldron disappears at this point and "eerie" music is played. This sets an eerie atmosphere and would alarm the audience. The witches then produce their last image which is of eight kings. The kings move silently across the stage accompanied by Banquo. Macbeth is distraught, his, "eyeballs burn." This apparition represents Banquo's children who are all destined to be kings. This apparition would frighten the audience as they are seeing eight dead kings, this highlights the witches' power. After the apparition disappears mysteriously the witches also disappear. The witches dance in a wild circle to music before they disappear, this would frighten the audience as they are watching the witches perform their magic. Most of the scenes with the witches begin with thunder or are set in a desolate place. This is typical for the witches, the thunder is to warn the audience of their supernatural presence and the desolate place is so they can be hidden and can perform their art without being disturbed. The witches speak in rhyming couplets; this reflects how odd they are and their unlikeness to "normal" society. Sometimes the witches speak together and other times they finish each others sentences, this shows their powers, they can read each others minds, this makes them more powerful. I think that William Shakespeare presentation of the witches in Macbeth is very dramatically effective. In the 17th century his audiences would have been under the witches' spell and would be frightened and shocked by them. However, today his presentation might not be as effective. Changes could be made to it to make it more effective, for example, it could be in Standard English so I would be easier for the audience to understand. Today the special effects would make the play even more interesting as technology would allow for more. Also if the story was changed slightly to incorporate new ideas and views it would make it more effective for today's audience which has been desensitized by horror movies and television. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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