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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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