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Discuss the function and role of the witches in Macbeth.

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Discuss the Function and Role of the Witches in Macbeth In the play of Macbeth the witches are regarded as immoral and unnatural in their behaviour. They play a huge part in Macbeth's planning of becoming king. At the beginning of the play they are planning to meet Macbeth, "When shall we three meet again, In thunder lightning, or in rain." Disturbances in nature are represented by line of thunder and lightning, it is supposed to give the effect of 'evil' this idea of evil continues throughout the play. Banquo believes that the witches are people who are not inhabitants of the world and although they are women it is hard to tell because of their manly beards. The witches prophecise that Macbeth will become the King of Scotland and know that he is the Thane of Cawdor before he does. At first Macbeth dismisses the idea of being king but then rethinks it. On behalf of both himself and Macbeth Banquo says, "Or have we eaten on the insane root, That tskes the reason prisoner?". Insane root was though to cause madness and Banquo's very first reaction is that they have both gone mad. Macbeth also describes them as having the power to melt from a solid state when they vanish from his sight; he is obviously amazed by this. Afterwards Macbeth receives a message from Ross and Angus telling him he is to become the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth together with Banquo realise that two out of three prophecies the witches make are true, but Macbeth decides it is a coincidence. ...read more.


He is almost endeavouring to commit evil. His visit to the witches demonstrates his obsession in that he believes he has enemies everywhere and has evidently placed himself under more suspicion at the banquet. He has reached a point where he is willing to do anything to satisfy himself. The deaths of Duncan and Banquo have left him in a highly dangerous, unstable physical and mental state. Nevertheless, Macbeth in his own mind believes he has everything under control. The scene in which Macbeth goes to the witches of his own accord is an important one because it sets the mood for his approach to the rest of the play. It opens with the witches cooking animal body parts in a couldron. This type of behavior is stereotypical of witches and represents how abnormal they are, "Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting," When Macbeth approaches, they indicate his approach, "By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes." Unlike on the moor after the battle, Macbeth finds the witches instead of them coming to him. We are able to see how obsessed he his to know his future when he lists destructive events that he wants to happen and that he does not care about them if they do because he just wants to know what will happen to him, "Even till destruction sicken- answer me, To what I ask you." The witches agree to answer all his questions and call upon apparitions. ...read more.


Macbeth gives a last attempt at bravery by saying that he will die fighting. Even until the end Macbeth is selfish in his ways, as he does not want to pay for his crimes. Although Macbeth knows he is nearing the end he still demonstrates that he is courageous and a fighting force by killing Young Siwar. He is testing the witches prophecy about not being killed by a man born of woman. Macduff enters entirely motivated by revenge. He will only use his sword against Macbeth. Macbeth does not want to kill Macduff as he has already killed part of his family. When he learns that Macduff was born differently through Caesarian not directly out of the womb he no longer desires to fight but due to his pride he is going to die trying. When Macduff exits with Macbeth's head he says that everything is back in order. Malcolm knows that nothing will be the same since Macbeth. The witches although bad in nature help the greater good to succeed. Much of the play deals with the struggle between light and darkness. Macbeth begins as a good character but because of their involvement he begins to symbolize darkness. The 'light' in the first two acts is King Duncan, but when he died the struggle went in favour of darkness. Macbeth seems to have control throughout most of the play until his conscience came back to haunt him. Macduff is the hero of the play but not a character who stands out as a hero. He symbolises the light, which will defeat darkness that is Macbeth. Gidon Mahalla 10/03/03 1 ...read more.

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