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

Discuss Shakespeares presentation of the witches in act one.

Extracts from this document...


Orla King 11C Macbeth Coursework Discuss Shakespeares presentation of the witches in act one You should consider: -Their function and importance in the play -Methods used by Shakespear to present the Witches -The reactions of other characters -Audience reaction, both then and now When Shakespeare wrote this play in 1606 a large majority of people were interested in witchcraft. King James was so fascinated by witches that he wrote an article about them in 1957 called 'Demonologie�. So this is why Shakespeare has made the witches and the witches� prophecies play a major part in the storyline and overall feeling of the play Macbeth. In the time of Macbeth witches were not thought to be supernatural beings themselves, but supposedly gained their powers by selling their souls to Satan, and were then instructed and controlled by 'familiar spirits�. The existence of witchcraft was recognised by English law - an act of 1604 made the practice of it punishable by death - but it was by no means unquestioned. There can be little doubt that most of Shakespeare's audience would have believed in witches, and for the purpose of the play, at least, Shakespeare also accepted their reality. The three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced right at the beginning of the play and the brief opening few scenes give an immediate impression of mystery, horror and uncertainty. ...read more.


The witches in Macbeth are typical of seventeenth century witches. They have supernatural powers, they can predict the future e.g. Predicting when the battle of Cawdor will end, they can turn into things e.g. Rats, they can hover, they can change the weather e.g. I'll give thee a wind, they can stop people sleeping. The witches all chant and speak in rhyme and riddle, which is a traditional feature of a seventeenth century real witch. There are three witches. The witches as well as being typical of real witches in the seventeenth century are also disorderly and chaotic like dreams, they both do not keep to spatial reality or time, there are both blurry you never seem to see the full picture, they both show some connection to real life because the witches seem to show what Macbeth desires are and how he can get the, just like a fantasy dream might show what we want and desire. What Macbeth wants is more power and more power for him is to become the king and the witches just like our dreams would present us with what it would be like but the witches go further than dreams and tell him how he could obtain his desires. Both dreams and the witches are unrealistic; they do not conform to an ordinary structure. ...read more.


So the actresses playing the witches would have had to be very expressive, loud and over exaggerated to be heard and to capture the audiences attention. Today we have a different prospect of witches. We do not see them as a threat to us in this modern society but as something out of a fairy tale. The audience today would not feel as threatened as the people who first saw the scene performed in 1606 because witches aren't talked about and feared as they were back then. Instead in modern theatres we use lighting and sound effects to try and enhance the audiences fear. Another function of the witches in Macbeth is as an embarrassment they wander into this otherwise serious play and mutter mumbo-jumbo about toads and liver. They are like an uninvited guest who keeps on reappearing. I believe that if we took the witches out of Macbeth it would make no sense as they bring everything together. The witches have a clearer idea of what is going on than anyone else does. They are closer to the audience's point of view than anyone else in the play. They are practically the narrators. I conclude that the witches main function in Macbeth is to make comparison between Macbeths conscious, real world and Macbeths unconscious, dream world. However, they serve many other functions, which would be absurd to overlook if you wanted to see the full picture of why the witches are in Macbeth. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Explore Shakespeares presentation of Lady Macbeth and the witches. How might the presentation of ...

    3 star(s)

    King James would have reacted to this opening positively as he very much liked witch craft and supernatural things, so this would have interested him straight away. In Act 1 scene 3, the witches tell Macbeth predictions that turn out to happen, he is told that he will become the thane of Cawdor and then soon after become King.

  2. Discuss the importance of the Supernatural in William Shakespeare's

    The dagger is described as, "fatal vision" and Macbeth does not know if it is a "dagger of the mind", or if it is real. I seems to represent evil, leads Macbeth to commit Duncan's murder. Macbeth describes the dagger and its intentions as "bloody business" suggesting he knows the evil it represents.

  1. How do the Witches in Macbeth Reflect contemporary ideas of witchcraft? Are the Witches ...

    As you can see the vocabulary has changed vastly, signifying Macbeth's downfall. The most obvious reason for Macbeth's degeneration is the witches as they have the most visible and direct impact on Macbeth's actions that make him go down his road to hell.

  2. Discuss the Presentation of Evil and the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth

    The witches also talk in a trochaic tetrameter which gives all of their speech a very spell-like sound, telling the audience that they are very used to casting spells, and therefore performing evil. This is also very different to the iambic pentameter in which Macbeth writes the rest of the

  1. Discuss Shakespeares presentation of the witches in Macbeth.

    Not only is the language used by the witches ugly, but also they are also ugly, being described as "filthy", "withered", "wild and bearded", which is never a good look... Although the director's interpretation of the appearance of the witches alters from play to play, mostly they are associated with ugliness.

  2. Macbeth Act One

    This once again draws inferences between Macbeth and evil. This could suggest that the Witches have control over Macbeth, or that the 'hags' are in some way similar to him. The appearance of the Witches like their speeches is equivocal.

  1. Macbeth's Dream

    The future is when he sees lady Macbeth dead with a heart of stone and dripping in blood. Macbeth, in the dream, also feels scared when he realises he has no-one to help him, he is surrounded by the witches and cannot get the image of his dead wife and former king out of his head.

  2. English Coursework The Importance of the Supernatural in William Shakespeare's" Macbeth"

    Again the witches are using nature and the weather for their own evil deeds this also further disturbs the audience. In Act 4 scene 1, the witches are mixing a potion ready for Macbeth. They speak in rhymes which disturbs the audience as speaking in rhymes was a normal characteristics

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