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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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