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

Discuss the importance of the witches in Macbeth and how their role in Macbeth(TM)s downfall can be interpreted dramatically.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the importance of the witches in "Macbeth" and how their role in Macbeth's downfall can be interpreted dramatically. Are the witches supernatural? That is one of the questions I will try to answer throughout this piece of writing. I will look at scenes from the play and from the movie and try to work out whether or not the witches had supernatural powers or whether they were simply three interfering hags who get pleasure from pushing Macbeth to his own self destruction. Some productions have presented them very differently: as grotesque and frightening; comic and ridiculous; young and beautiful; or masked and hideous. What was the reason for Macbeth's downfall? Did the witches make Macbeth do what he did or did they simply plant the idea in his head that led to it? Macbeth was a mighty and ambitious warrior. The witches "prophecy" leads him to murder Duncan so that he himself can be King - but his conscience afterwards never lets him rest. Act 1, Scene 1. "A prologue of evil: the witches plan to meet with Macbeth" A very short scene opens the play. It is long enough to draw people's attention in but not to satisfy it. We have come in at the end of the witches' meeting just as they are arranging their next appointment, before their "familiar spirits" call them into the "fog and filthy air". ...read more.


He tries to reject this, declaring he will leave it up to chance "If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me without my stir." His thoughts are frightening as at the time the play was written it was thought of as one of the most unnatural things a person could do to kill a king. This ties in with the Divine Right Of Kinship, because the people of the time believed that the king was chosen by God and was his representative on earth. If a king was killed it was thought that the world would be turned upside down (Foul is Fair... what witches were going for?). In history there was a real Kind Duncan and it was said that he was murdered by Macbeth and Banquo together. Shakespeare took this and made his own story about it which was probably another reason why the people of the time found this story quite frightening. In the film by Polanski the horses start and whinny uncontrollably as they approach the witches. This could be because animals have been thought to be able to sense evil. The youngest witch has her back open in the cold weather to show that the witches aren't human and aren't bothered by the elements. ...read more.


I think that the witches play an important role as they are the whole reason that everything goes bad, they are at the root of everything. Whether or not they did this just to meddle in Macbeth's life or because they really were just passing on their prophecies I do not know. The film never gives a clear indication as to whether or not they are supernatural as every time the witches disappear off the screen there can be a reasonable explanation for it. I think this is the idea that Polanski was going for as in the play there is a scene with Hecate the "Goddess of the Witches" which he edits out. If this was in the film it would be clear that the witches are obviously supernatural as they have a Goddess. But the play could also have been written with the intentions of the witches being supernatural as this was a Scottish play about a Scottish king like King James I at the time. King James had a great fear of witches as did most people at the time. They believed witches took the form of animals the most common being a rat with no tail, this could be because of all the rats around London spreading disease. So was this play relating to King James and his obsessive fear of supernatural witches or was Shakespeare simply just playing By Kerry Harrison Form 5 ...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.

    I think Macbeth feels some guilt at his extreme ambition. He knows that it is wrong! In this quote we see that Macbeth want nobody to see what he is thinking and what he plans to do, "Stars hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires..."

  2. How does Shakespeare make Macbeth(TM)s crisis of conscience dramatically effective in acts 1 and ...

    you start and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?" Instead of dismissing the witches' words as rubbish, Macbeth wants to know more: "Stay, you imperfect speakers. Tell me more." These can be the first signs that Macbeth may have a crisis of conscience because before he asked the witches to speak more, he feared what they said.

  1. Discuss the importance of the witches and Supernatural to 'Macbeth'

    To get rid of Banquo, Macbeth plans another murder. This time, it's not him doing the murder but hired assassins. He hires assassins because he's a coward. He wants other people to do his dirty work. Now, he is thinking that he has killed 'gracious' Duncan just for Banquo's children to become king.

  2. Malory's Magical Medieval Women - The Role and Importance of Women in Le Morte ...

    is grief that turns Lancelot's truest friend, Gawain, into his sworn enemy and causes the mortal strife of the final catastrophe. After Guinevere was rescued by Lancelot, she sought refuge in a convent, to live out her days repenting of the sins she had committed, and in doing so to find salvation.

  1. The Importance of the Witches In Macbeth

    They can only cause a storm. They can't sink the ship. The spell is spoken in a full chant and would be acted dramatically to show this. Banquo and Macbeth enter and the witches greet Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Cawdor and the future king.

  2. Examine the role of the witches in Macbeth.

    After hearing these prophecies Macbeth responds by physically jolting. Banquo saying 'why do you start and seem to fear' shows this. There are three possible explanations for him jumping. Either Macbeth jumps in fear of the witches, jumps because he knows Duncan must die, or because the idea of murdering the king was already in his mind.

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

    It is obvious from this to realise how easily the supernatural has affected her. She talks of how she wants the spirits to encourage her and make her as brave as a man by taking her feminine qualities away- " Come to my woman's breasts, and take my milk for gall."

  2. Discuss the Role of the Witches and Other Supernatural Elements

    They believed that witches could: * Curse * Cast spells * Predict the future * Fly * Vanish * Control weather conditions Thousands of people were killed because they might have been a witch. So this shows why the witches were introduced to the story.

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