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Examine the dramatic impact and significance of the witches in Macbeth

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Macbeth -By William Shakespeare Examine the dramatic impact and significance of the witches in Macbeth. The first scene of the play is anything but calm. There are three evil and unnatural looking witches meeting on an isolated moor. Before any of the witches speak there is a bolt of lightening and thunder sounds. There is a misty fog and it is dark. Although there is nothing to indicate it here, the witches are far from a pleasant sight. They are not dressed in a normal fashion. "What are these, So wither'd and so wild in their attire, That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth, And yet are on't? Live you?" Neither do they look femine. "You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so" This is Banquo's reaction on seeing them later on. -Their appearance startles and puzzles him, as it would the audience in the first scene. When the witches speak, it is in rhymes and riddles. "When hurlyburly's done, When battle's lost and won" There are contradictions and alliteration. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air" They mention animals: greymalkin meaning grey cat and paddock meaning toad. ...read more.


They wouldn't state facts. It is thought that this scene could have been added because the audience liked the witches or there was an actor who wanted a part. Hecate has again been added in Act 4, Scene 1. What she says has no relevance to the scene what so ever. It has obviously been slotted in. Act 4, Scene 1 is set on a moor in a cave. The three witches are standing around a cauldron making a potion. All the ingredients the witches are adding were poisonous, or known to be so by Elizabethans. Macbeth enters. He has not learnt from his previous experience with the witches and again tries to command them. They decide to play along, probably to make him think he is powerful. 1st witch: "speak" 2nd witch: "demand" 3rd witch: "we'll answer" Macbeth hears the prophecies of the witches' masters. 1st Apparition: "beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of fife" At this he says he had suspected it. 2nd Apparition: "none of a woman born Shall harm Macbeth" 3rd Apparition: "Macbeth shall never vanuish'd be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him" What Macbeth doesn't realise is that the second and third apparitions' words are not as they seemed. ...read more.


The first is that they did seem to speak the truth. The second is that they told him what he wanted to hear. People do pick and chose what they want to believe to a certain extent. For example I suspect that most people believe in heaven or reincarnation not because it is realistic or logical but because it is nice to comfort yourself with the thought that when you die that is not it: the end. -Something else follows. Many would like to believe it. Macbeth and the witches both have power but in very different ways. Macbeth's is just a title, a position whereas the witches are all seeing, all-powerful and can manipulate people's lives. They play with people, to them it is just a game, something they seem to do for their own amusement. There is quite a transformation in Macbeth. At first he is weak. "Yet I do fear thy nature: It is too full o' the milk of human-kindness To catch the nearest way" He then lusts after position and power. He was so in love with Lady Macbeth at the beginning and cared about what she thought but he doesn't even seem bothered when she dies. Seuton: "The queen, my lord, is dead" Macbeth: "She should have died hereafter" Aisling Knight 10.4 21st March 2000 1 ...read more.

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