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Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth your essay refer to Shakespeare's use of language, devices and structure for dramatic effect.

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Introduction

Shakespeare Coursework Macbeth Title: Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth your essay refer to Shakespeare's use of language, devices and structure for dramatic effect. The play opens dramatically with three witches in a dessert place with thunder crashing and lightning flashing. This would immediately gain Elizabethan audiences' attention that would be unsettled by the scene on stage. Elizabethans really did fear witches and the thunder and lightning would add to the drama. Elizabethans believed extreme weather conditions signalled turbulent times for man. This creates a powerful mood of chaos and confusion. It foreshadows the dramatic events that will unfold on stage. It symbolises the detrimental power of evil and the forces of chaos Macbeth will unleash in Scotland. Throughout the play thunder and lightning always accompanied the witches. In Macbeth the witches have a very important role as in Elizabethan times when the play was first performed the idea of witches was a very real for people. King James 1, who was on the throne at the time, was terrified and also knowledgeable in the subject of witches. He believed that witches had plotted against him and tried to kill him. He even wrote a book about the subject called "Daemonology". Flattery is also involved in the including of witches' role in the play, as they were in keeping with the King's view on witches. King James himself would have gone to watch the play. As the witches were seen as evil, mouthpieces of the devil people would know as soon as the witches appeared on stage that evil was one of the themes of the play. Once the witches actually spoke it would confirm the audiences' first impressions that these wild women were outside normality and not part of society. The way that they speak in chants is as if they are making magic "When the hurlyburly's done, When the battles lost and won". ...read more.

Middle

He is totally under their influence and their powers and strength, this would further unsettle the audience, as many people believed in the power of witchcraft. He sent his wife a letter explaining about the meeting with the sisters and what they told him. Lady Macbeth was very ambitious and was greedy for power she wanted Macbeth to kill King Duncan and claim the throne for himself. She knows that Macbeth would find it difficult to kill Duncan who he admires and is a relative, she thinks he is "too full of the milk of human kindness". She therefore encourages him and supports him in the plan to kill King Duncan. When Macbeth runs to Lady Macbeth after the murder holding the daggers she takes control telling Macbeth " Give me the daggers". She places them in the King's chamber and reassures Macbeth that "The sleeping and the dead are but pictures." However Macbeth feels extremely guilty. Once the King had been murdered it set Macbeth on a path of evil and brought him no happiness or peace. First he murdered the guards then Banquo, fearing he knew too much, and later Macduff's family. His tortured mind was obvious to the audience at the Banquet. Macbeth holds a dinner party on the night that he has ordered for Banquo to be murdered. His entire kinsmen are invited including Banquo. The audience knows that his assassination has been carried out successfully. He finds a spare place at the table he finds one then sees that the gory ghost of Banquo occupies it. Macbeth is now a wreck as the haunting ghost plays in his mind. Since the first killing Macbeth has not been the same. When the gory Banquo appears at the dining table Macbeth is very distressed his wife has to excuse him, giving the reason that it was a fit he suffered regularly. ...read more.

Conclusion

They seem to know all about his secret, black ambitions. This reinforces the presence of evil associated with these wild women. In Elizabethan times when the play was first performed the audience would have associated witches with the devil and evil happenings. The language that Shakespeare employs supports these thoughts that the audience would have. Words such as hover known to refer to power. People believed that witches had powers, as the witches are always in deserted, lonely places they automatically are perceived by the audiences as outside society, outside human morality. The witches do not speak like other characters in the play. Their contradictory and ambiguous language sets them aside from them. As they speak in chants and riddles Macbeth does not know what to think. Macbeth believes that he is in control of what the witches say but actually he is wrong. The witches have control. They always have Macbeth right where they want him. Macbeth also listened to what the witches had to say as they were seen as the " gods of destiny". He would not have listened if they were just instruments of evil. The visual appearance would have set them aside from all the other characters. They were "So withered and so wild in their attire, that look not like the inhabitants of the earth" as described by Banquo. These so-called women had beards; Banquo is not really sure what they are. "You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so" Their overall significance in the play is to create confusion for Macbeth and also to control his actions. The audience was aware from the beginning of the play. When in the first scene Macbeth's meetings with the witches were arranged. The witches were in control the whole time but their evil could only operate where man allows it to do so; so eventually, at the end of the play good triumphs as Malcolm and Macduff conquer Macbeth. Amy Bennett ...read more.

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