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Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth.

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Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth. This essay will discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth. I will do this by looking at Act 1 Scene 1, Act 1 Scene 3 and Act 4 Scene 1. I will also explain how the witches' prophecies affect Macbeth's actions. In order to discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth, this paragraph will explore Act 1 Scene 1. Shakespeare begins the play with the witches. This draws attention to the play immediately. It does this because in Shakespearian times witches and other supernatural events were believed to exist. Macbeth was first performed in 1606, early in the reign of James I. Only forty-two years before a law was passed which made murder by witchcraft punishable by death, showing not only that people believed strongly in witchcraft but also that they were afraid of it. In 1590 James I was shipwrecked and blamed this on witches, since then he became obsessed with witches. He even went on to publish work on witchcraft, Demonology, in 1597. Shakespeare may have put the witches in the play to please and interest the new king. ...read more.


As soon as the witches speak Banquo notices Macbeth reacting: 'Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that sound so fair?' Banquo instantly sees a reaction on Macbeth's face. The witches have affected Macbeth in their first statement to him. The witches later disappear, 'The earth hath bubbles, as the water has'. This proves that the witches are really witches and also adds dramatic effect to the play. Lennox and Ross appear and announce that Macbeth is to be Thane of Cawdor. This makes the first of the witches prophecies come true and has a large effect on Macbeth. Macbeth now starts to believe that the prophecies are true. In order to discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth this paragraph will look into how the witches' prophecies affect Macbeth's actions. The prophecies tempted Macbeth to murder very quickly. In Act 1 Scene 3 just after Macbeth has been told the prophecies he is already beginning to think of murder, in an aside he says to himself 'My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical'. This shows that the prophecies are making him think about murder even though he is not yet sure whom he will murder. ...read more.


Shakespeare has done this to create a larger sense of evil and to draw more attention to the stage. The prophecies told to Macbeth in this scene are 'beware Macduff', 'none of women born shall harm Macbeth' and 'Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill'. This leaves Macbeth feeling very confident and creates dramatic irony because now he feels invincible when he is not. The role of the witches in Macbeth is to add dramatic effect/draw attention to the stage. The people of that era, including the king, were all scared of witches. Shakespeare exploits this and uses the witches at the beginning of the play to draw the audience's attention. Shakespeare also uses the witches again half way through the play in Act 4 Scene 1 to again attract the audience's attention. Shakespeare may also have written the witches into Macbeth to please James I. He was the new king in a new monarchy, the Jacobeans and it would be in Shakespeare's best interests to impress and please the new king. The witches thicken the plot by introducing the prophecies to Macbeth. They exploit Macbeth's weakness, his selfishness, with these prophecies and it is because of this weakness that his downfall occurred. Macbeth Essay ...read more.

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