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Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth

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Introduction

Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth Shakespeare's Macbeth is a play written using a sensitive subject of the time that would have instantly caught the attention of any audience. The subject that caused such a reaction was the existence of witches, and it was those characters that would have been given the most attention. The witches were made to be an integral part of the play because of their mysterious attire and style of speech also I think that Shakespeare included them because he could make the witches as dramatically shocking as he wanted but at the same time keeping to the normal stereotypical witch. Having the witches as shocking would have added to the audiences hate for them and given the witches the obvious role of the bad characters. King James I was fascinated like many others by witches and had written a book called Demonology, to have based a play on the powers and influence of witches would have had many interested and King James I. At that time having the king pleased was a good thing because of the violent nature of the people, displeasing him may have resulted in death. The importance of the witches in the play can be seen at any point of action. The witches are catalysts for action and are involved in every important part of the play. The witches' powers are used to create action. At the time witches were believed to have many powers, the main ones are commonly known. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth asks the witches for more information to make what they have told him clearer but the witches give an example of their powers by disappearing into thin air. Banquo questions Macbeth about his reaction in the paragraph after he has been told that he will become King, the questioning is a result of the witches speaking to Macbeth. Again showing how much of an effect the witches have on different characters. Macbeth is worried and unsure of what to make of the witches prediction and Banquo does not understand why when they have told him something good he does not like it, this is because of the equivocations. This is a good example of one of the witches' roles in the play, in this scene they install an element of confusion and disbelief but then disappear without explaining what they have said. Macbeth and Banquo then have to make what they can of what the witches have said and this is where the problems begin because it is easy to misinterpret what they have said. This is the way that the witches are equivocators. In that scene after the witches have disappeared Ross and Angus appear to tell Macbeth the news that he has become Thane of Cawdor. The witches knew that this would happen and now that one of their predictions have come true it increases the element of confusion and disbelief. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is the other two apparitions that had given Macbeth confidence. The witches had predicted that Macduff and Malcolm were going to use the trees as cover to attack Macbeth but the way that the witches told it to Macbeth made it seem to be an impossible thing. It is the same with the way Macbeth was told that he cannot be harmed by a man that is of 'woman born'. When Macduff tells Macbeth that he was 'Untimely ripped' from his mother's womb I think that Macbeth realises that he was tricked by the witches. The tricking is what led to Macbeth's downfall although I think Macbeth was also responsible but it was the witches that first gave him the ideas of being King and giving him the equivocations. It is the inclusion of the witches that reinforced Macbeth's evil nature and the importance of loyalty and order in the kingdom because Macbeth has shown people how being disloyal and evil can affect people, and it is not only those that he was disloyal to that were affected. Because of the witches anyone of importance in the kingdom was affected by Macbeth's actions. The role of the witches is to cause suffering and pain to the people around Macbeth and I think that the role of the witches was carefully written to exploit the weaknesses of Macbeth such as his greed and willingness to kill. Macbeth's character fits perfectly with what the witches enjoy doing the most. Chris Wilson 11JF ...read more.

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