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Discuss the Role of the Witches in Macbeth.

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Gareth David 10B 19/01/02 Discuss the Role of the Witches in Macbeth Although the witches only appear in Macbeth four times their influence is seen throughout the downfall of Macbeth. Their words control Macbeths actions. They are a sign of evil and by including them Shakespeare shows the audience the evil core of the play. The witches trap Macbeth in their evil way and their seductive words and actions causing Macbeth to embark on his killing spree. The witches words devour Macbeth inside and he gives in after extra taunting by Lady Macbeth who is sometimes referred to as REFERRED TO AS the fourth witch. The play is opened by the witches, signalling to the audience that there is an evil theme to the play. This is important as in Shakespeare's time many believed witches had unnatural powers and represented dark forces in the minds of the audience of the time. Shakespeare shows the evilness of the witches in many different ways, an example of this is how there is, as always, thunder and lightening, as the witches meet, which creates a dramatic atmosphere and we see how they use rhyme in their speech - "Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air." This is a typical example of the witches speech. They use rhyme at the end of the line in "fair" and "air". ...read more.


Later he believes that the only way he can become King of Scotland is to kill Duncan. However, the witches did not make Macbeth perform his grisly deeds they just fuel his engine. In the next Scene Macbeth discover Duncan's choice for an heir and we hear him speak for the first time in a likeness to the witches and begins to speak in rhyme. "For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires. Let not light see my black and deep desires" This also show the affect the witches have had on him and shows how their predictions are eating away at him and seems to be giving in to his deep-desires to be king. When Lady Macbeth discovers the prophecies through a letter from Macbeth, she decides that he "shalt be what thou art promised". However, she fears that he is "too full of the milk of human kindness" to carry it out, and this will stand in his way as he would not likely want to "catch the nearest way", to become king. She decides that she shall use her influence over him to bring him around to the idea of killing Duncan. She shall "pour" her "spirits in" his "ear". Even though Lady Macbeth has not met the witches the affect of their words on her is seen by the immediate and dramatic vow that these prophecies shall come true. ...read more.


Macbeth takes action due to the first apparition warning him of Macduff - he takes the decision to kill all of Macduff's family. This is both evil and pointless, as he does not kill Macduff, who he is warned against. The other apparitions however give a false confidence as the apparitions confuse him. The witches cause his destruction with this. After Macduff's families death we find that Macduff is already in England and is planning to lead English forces against Macbeth with Malcolm. It is in Act 5, Scene 5 that Macbeth begins to worry, as it appears that Burnham Wood has begun to move as Malcolm has every soldier using the camouflage of the wood. It is also curious that he, unnaturally, does not seem to mourn for the death of Lady Macbeth. When the English forces breach Macbeth's defenses Macbeth and Macduff begin their duel, he discovers, tragically late, that Macduff is not "of woman born" and the final prophecy is fulfilled. Macbeth then realises how he has been tricked by "juggling fiends". The influence of the witches is seen throughout and the most significant way they affect the play is how they lead to Macbeth's untimely demise and death. It is because of their equivocation that Macbeth became so confident that he took on a 10,000-man army. It is important, however, that the witches did not tell Macbeth to kill a single person and it was his all-consuming ambition that was the main ingredient of his ultimate death. ...read more.

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