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

Discuss the different influences, with particular reference to the witches, which lead to Macbeth's eventual downfall

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the different influences, with particular reference to the witches, which lead to Macbeth's eventual downfall Macbeth is a play written by the famous playwright, William Shakespeare. The play was started around 1603 but was only finished in 1606. The play is a tragedy and is one of the darkest of Shakespeare's plays ever written. The play was originally written for King James I when he came to the throne of England after Elizabeth had died. Banquo, one of the characters in the play, is based upon one of the Kings ancestors. The play is set in ancient Scotland where witches roam the land and war is in the air as Norway try to invade Scotland. Witches are a big part in this play, especially as in Elizabethan time, when the play was written, the belief in witchcraft was vast. Many people were drowned and burnt because they were thought to be witches. Any earthquake, hurricane or unexplainable happenings were blamed on witches. Males act out all of the characters in Macbeth, as all actors in Shakespeare's time were male. The play begins with three witches who would have possibly changed from stones into human form. They would be wearing old cloth rags and appear old and crooked with a few warts. The witches speak, in short sentences and riddles like, "...foul is fair as fair is foul..." They all huddle together and immediately involve Macbeth, "There to meet with Macbeth!" This involvement of Macbeth with witches so early on in the play invokes the idea that Macbeth might be evil. This contrast between Evil and Macbeth is echoed in the next scene where there is a big bloody battle and a valiant and courageous Macbeth battles his way through an flood of soldiers, the Norman Soldiers, and a captain has been sent to the king to report on Macbeth's progress. ...read more.


Lady Macbeth reads, "They met me in the day of success, and I have learned by the perfectest report they have more in them than mortal knowledge." We now see an evil side of Lady Macbeth as she immediately assumes King Duncan must be killed, "...the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements." Although not by her husband as she fears he is too kind hearted, "...too full of the milk of human kindness..." Whereas Macbeth tries to believe that he will be named king without involving himself in dirty deeds and intervening, interfering in fate , "...chance may crown me without my stir." We can also see Lady Macbeth is evil when she asks the goods to 'unsex' her, believing that she could kill Duncan herself if she were a man. Lady Macbeth is a lot like the witches. The witches conjure up evil spells, which could be compared as Lady Macbeth conjuring up evil thoughts, which she wants to "pour my spirits in thine ear." She is only doing this out of ambition to become queen. Macbeth returns to his castle with his new title and anger that he was not named as heir to the throne. He is now influenced once again, this time by his wife who does her best to get her husband to kill King Duncan, as Macbeth is still having doubts about murder and the only reason for it is ambition, "...if the assassination could trammel up the consequence...? He's here in double trust; first as I am his kinsman and his subject...then as his host..." Shakespeare's use of imagery in this scene is extremely good. This is shown the best when Lady Macbeth talks about Duncan entering the castle but the fact that he won't be alive to ...read more.


Lady Macbeth also says during her sleep walking "..out damn spot..." this, to an Elizabethan audience, would seem like Lady Macbeth has the mark of the devil, meaning that she was a witch. When she wakes in the morning she writes a suicide note and then jumps off the highest turret of the castle, "The queen, my lord, is dead." Outside the castle Macduff has hidden his army in the trees of Burnam Wood. He has ordered that each soldier cut down a branch of the tree to hid his numbers from Macbeth, "Let every soldier hew him down a bough, and bear't before him; thereby shall we shadow the numbers of our host and make discovery Err in report of us." Though, this is pointless as Macbeth doesn't have an army anymore as his men have all deserted him. Macduff then enters the castle, finding no soldiers he calls out to Macbeth, "Tyrant, show thy face!" This is rather ironic as at the start of the play, Macduff called Macbeth a "...worthy thane..." Macbeth and Macduff then fight but Macbeth is over powered by Macduff when he tells Macbeth that he was born of a woman but he "was from his mothers womb untimely ripped." Macduff then severs Macbeth's head and hangs if on a pole at the top of the castle and Malcolm is pronounced King of Scotland. There are lots of themes in Macbeth. Most of these are: * Macbeth's clothes * Ambition * Light and dark, good and Evil * Order and Disorder * Appearance and reality Macbeth's clothes are a large theme in this play as it is said that the clothes make a man, and there are a lot of reference to his clothes in the play such as when he is made Thane of Cawdor, "... ...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. A classical tragedy tells the story of the downfall of a great man.

    They tell Banquo less because they are secretly there to meet Macbeth. I think they tell Banquo something because it will stir up even more trouble later. After the witches predict for Banquo, Macbeth becomes more interested in his own future.

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

    This implies two things: he is no longer a human and so sleep can't apply to him, it also foretells that Macbeth will no longer be healed by sleep and so will gradually degenerate. With this image in mind you can now think Macbeth to be some sort of never sleeping, night walking monster.

  1. "Macbeth kills the king due to pressure from external influences" Discuss

    In line 57, we see that Macbeth is "rapt withal" - he is caught up in what the witches say and this is only confirmed in line 70, when Macbeth states "Stay, you imperfect speakers. Tell me more", He clearly wants to know more about what the witches have to say to him.

  2. Analysis of the witches in macbeth

    "For a charm or powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble," - this shows that they have the power to create apparitions through spells. In Act 1 Scene 1 we are introduced to the witches. This sets an evil atmosphere and a scene of awe.

  1. What have you learnt about a) Macbeth b) The Soliloquies?

    "Strong both against deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself" Macbeth thinks that if he is a good man he should be doing his best to defend his guests, but he intends to kill one and has drugged all of the other guests.

  2. How does Shakespeare invoke a sense of evil in Macbeth?

    It is also evident from this first scene that the witches have an unholy alliance or affiliation with the future and time. The third witch proclaims "that will be 'ere the set of sun" displaying her knowledge of future events, and so augmenting the witches already supernatural, malevolent image.

  1. The Downfall of Macbeth

    - 2:2:70-1 The entire scene (Act 2, scene 2) is a tense one, Shakespeare portrays the tension through their rigid speech and monosyllabic question and response. Shakespeare also uses the confrontation of two rivals later on in the play to create an edge, Macduff and Macbeth in Act 5, scene 7, and uses the humour in the porter scene

  2. Imagery Of Appearance and Reality in Macbeth

    Again in Act I,Sc.v, Lady Macbeth calls on "thick night" to wrap itself in a blanket of darkness so that she might not be seen in the act of murder. Before the murder of Banquo, Macbeth calls on the "seeling night" to "Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day" (Act III,Sc.ii).

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