• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9

Discuss the role of the witches and the supernatural in 'Macbeth'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the role of the witches and the supernatural in 'Macbeth' In Shakespeare's time the public were increasingly fascinated by witchcraft. It is estimated that in Scotland, where the play is set, eight thousand witches were burnt to death between 1564 and 1603. James the first himself was also personally involved with witchcraft when he and his wife, Anne, were almost shipwrecked on their return to Scotland from Denmark. Dr Fian and the 'witches of Berwick' were found guilty of trying to kill them by raising storms at seas. 'Macbeth' was probably first performed at James' Court in August 1606 to mark the visit of James' brother-in-law, King Christian of Denmark. In the opening scenes of 'Macbeth' we are introduced to the witches, and immediately see the influence of the supernatural. The weather makes an impact in creating an atmosphere of unease, especially thunder and lightning, which heightens the tension and creates a sense of evil: "When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurly-burly's done When the battle's lost and won." The witches' questions and answers are spoken in rhyming couplets creating the sense of a spell. They use antithesis and speak in paradoxes: "when the battle's lost and won" and "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." This creates confusion, which they clearly delight in. ...read more.

Middle

When Lady Macbeth gives Macbeth advice on how he should act when Duncan comes for dinner as she urges him to hide his feelings and "Look like th' innocent flower But be the serpent under't" We are reminded of the witches in this echo of "fair is foul, and foul is fair," where looking like the innocent flower is fair, good and beautiful but the serpent underneath is foul and bad. Macbeth's soliloquy while Duncan's feasting, seems to confirm his wife's understanding of him being 'too full of the milk in human kindness' and when he tells Lady Macbeth that they will go no further with the plot to kill Duncan, her language to him is deliberately shocking, in its repulsive, violent and unnatural images. It shows her power, aggression and the lengths she will go to make Macbeth continue with the plan. She claims that, whilst breast feeding she "Would while it was smiling in (her) face Have pinched (her) nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the bones out, had (she) sworn as (he) Have done to this" Lady Macbeth uses concrete nouns giving a graphic image of the hideous distortion of nature. She realises that Macbeth's doubt needs to be overcome quickly and this needs extreme measures. If they delay one night, the chance is gone. ...read more.

Conclusion

And finally the third prophecy 'Be as cruel as you like.' Later Macbeth decides to kill Macduff's wife and babies, "His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls," as he is furious that Macduff has left to England, he can't get to Macduff so he'll kill his family to get to him. At this point Macbeth doesn't care who he murders, they soon become pointless. Towards the end of the play we see Lady Macbeth for the last time suffering from the nightmarish visions of the earlier murders, her 'unnatural deeds' have affected her deeply. The 'disease' is in her mind and soul and nothing can be done to cure it. At the beginning of the play she wanted to become unsexed, male but know she's become all female, "all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." Macbeth gradually discovers the truth behind the witches' prevarications and is finally destroyed. In conclusion the witches do not actually push Macbeth to do anything evil - they only put ideas into his head and use his ambition so he will carry out evil deeds. We are still aware of the witches influence even when they're not on stage by the supernatural events and echoes of the witches' words repeated by other characters. Words: 2108 Manika Malhotra year 10 Created on 08/02/2005 14:21 ...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. Malory's Magical Medieval Women - The Role and Importance of Women in Le Morte ...

    be my queen."10 Morgan was very thorough in her plans to take over the Kingdom and was willing to kill anyone who got in her way. She was extremely ruthless, a typically male trait, and underestimated by her half-brother King Arthur:11 "...I shall be sore avenged on her an I

  2. Examine the role of the witches in Macbeth.

    her and how she would take her revenge upon the woman's husband. The woman's husband was the captain of a ship and the witch says 'in a sieve I'll thither sail' and 'I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do'. One of the skills witches were credited with was the ability

  1. What role does the supernatural play in 'Macbeth'?

    When the witches give their predictions of glory, they do not go into detail, this leaves both Macbeth and Banquo questioning the authenticity of the predictions. Even after this, there is still much doubt in both their minds as to whether this is true or not, 'to be king stands not within the prospect of belief.'

  2. Shakespeare's use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

    'Aroint thee witch', the rump-fed ronyon cries. Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' th' Tiger; But in a sieve I'll thither sail, And like a rat without a tail, I'll do, I'll do and I'll do.' The first witch is expressing that she has a short temper, and expects

  1. How would an audience in the time if Shakespeare reacts to the role of ...

    The eye wink at the hand: yet let that be, Which the eye fears when it is done to see." He does this because stars are a form of light and light represents goodness. We now start to think that this maybe the start of Macbeth's evil paths coming to light, it is then that Lady Macbeth is introduced.

  2. An exploration of evil and its development within the Macbeth play 'Unnatural deeds do ...

    and you all know, security is mortal's chiefest enemy.' Act III scene V It's not only the witches who exemplify the evil in the play; it's also the supernatural and paranormal things that happen such as the apparition of the dagger.

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

    I think the witches' intentions are to cause abit of chaos. Witches were thought to be dangerous servants of Satan. So they could have just been looking to cause chaos with someone they know has the will power to do something like killing the king.

  2. What do you find most dramatically effective and interesting about the supernatural in 'Macbeth' ...

    a ring, this would, once again sending out messages of incantation to the audience, who would be familiar with the acts of witches. Macbeth enters and immediately outsets his speech with "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" These are the words that the witches had used

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