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Discuss Shakespears use of language in 'Macbeth'

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Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of the witches, you should write about * Their function and importance in the play. * The methods used by Shakespeare to present them. * The reactions of other character to them. * Audience reaction both then and now. When Shakespeare wrote his play in 1606 witches and witchcraft were the object of morbid and fevered fascination. Between 1560 and1603 hundreds of people, were convicted as witches and the 1604 Act of Parliament decreed that anyone found guilty of practicing witchcraft should be executed, burnt at the stake or drowned in a river. Single, old women who kept cats were under constant danger of being accused of witchcraft. The cruel persecution of such people was fuelled by an ugly mixture of superstition, misogyny and a firm conviction that religion and morality were being upheld. King James was fascinated by witch craft. In 1590 it was alleged that a group of witches had tried to kill him. ...read more.


The witches are essential in the plot as they contribute to the deterioration of Macbeth. Although they have no power to induce belief, they basically encourage Macbeth's ambition and lead him to the way of evil, because of this; they are a fundamental element of the play. Shakespeare opens the play with a dramatic entrance of the witches accompanied by thunder and lightening. It is clear to be seen that the witches control the elements and are therefore very powerful. The witches almost always speak in four beat rhythms, this incantatory style is particularly appropriate to spells and the super natural. 'Fair is foul and foul is fair' this line tells us the anarchy the witches bring to our world. The drum beat rhythm (Act 1 scene 1) suggests the battle is raging else where and at the same time symbolises the battle for Macbeths soul. The witches are antithesis of God's divine order so beloved by James I. When the witches chant- 'When the battles lost and won' This is close juxtaposing opposites. ...read more.


in other words, is unnaturally and imperfectly formed. Banquo's description of the witches is important in seeing how unnatural they are: they seem to be women but are not. It is Banquo who thinks they are evil: `What! Can the devil speak true?' (Act 1 scene 3) The uneducated, credulous audience watching the play in Shakespeare's time do not doubt the existence of witches and believe that their aim is to capture human souls and make them evil. However in the twenty first century the word witch conjures up thoughts of Halloween, broomsticks, black cloaks and pointed hats. Shakespeare's audience would also hear many echoes of their Christian faith and are reminded of the damnation that awaits those who challenge Christian beliefs for example, 'Sacrilegious murder hath broke ope/ the Lords anointed temple.' With today's audience there is lots of scope for directors to go all out with special effects and have moments where people are sitting on the edge of their seats in fear and trepidation. In conclusion the witches are thematically important and are a major contributory factor to the play's popularity. ...read more.

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