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Examine the influence of witchcraft in Macbeth. Why do you think Shakespeare included witches in this play?

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Introduction

Examine the influence of witchcraft in Macbeth. Why do you think Shakespeare included witches in this play? In Macbeth, there is a battle between good and evil over a man's will. Most people believed in witchcraft in the seventeenth century. They were said to be evil, supernatural beings. King James the First had an interest in witchcraft. Several witches were accused for shipwrecking him at one point. The witches were tortured and probably confessed to it - even if they didn't do anything. I think Shakespeare used witches and the supernatural in the play because people were very interested in witchcraft and they could understand and believe the story more. This adds to the tension and excitement. The witches are introduced into the play in the opening scene; there is thunder and lightning - which were associated with evil. There are three witches they cast a spell to shipwreck someone - probably referring to King James's experience. This would have pleased the king. One of the witches predicts when the war will end. This may mean that the witches started the battle. The witches also call their "familiars" (these are a sort of evil pet). This is a very stereotypical view of a witch, but works well because the audience can relate to it. The first scene ends with the words; "fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air." ...read more.

Middle

Then they can deceive us in more important matters. Macbeth is already blinded by poteutral ambition and doesn't listen. In Act 1 scene 5, Lady Macbeth is introduced. She receives a letter from Macbeth telling her about the witches' prophecies. She is instantly drawn into what the witches had to say; she begins to play how Macbeth will become king. She wants to take away the obstacles in the plans path, e.g. Duncan. She wants to murder the king. A messenger comes with news that Macbeth has arrived. Lady Macbeth starts to call on evil spirits to give her strength. "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts!" This shows that the evil and greed have taken over her, she'll do whatever it takes to get her husband to become king; she might want it even more than Macbeth himself. Maybe this is where the witches possess her, or she may have been linked to the supernatural before. When Macbeth arrives, his wife tells him of her plan to kill the king. He knows that what he is thinking is wrong and immoral, but he still lets Lady Macbeth talk him into it. Lady Macbeth also says that she will use a potion to drug the guards, showing a slight connection between her and witchcraft. In Act 2 scene 1, Macbeth sees a vision of a dagger before him on the night just prior to the murder. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth does not grieve, because he feels life is meaningless. It is like he has lost his soul. This shows that what the witches said had a strong effect on him. Act 5 scene 7 - The battle continues throughout this scene. Macbeth meets young Siward, and kills him. Macbeth also comes across Macduff for the first time, Macbeth says he is not afraid of him because he believes that no one of woman born can harm him. But Macduff tells him that he is not of woman born, and kills him. I think that the witches are responsible for the deaths of Macbeth and his wife. I think this is because when we first meet Macbeth, he is a great soldier and he is loyal to his king. But then, after this short meeting with the witches he becomes paranoid about the prophecies. And becomes somehow possessed. He begins killing people he used to care for because he believes they are just mere obstacles which lay in his path. But his wife had persuaded him to remove the obstacles. Which shows she may have been even more possessed than him. I don't think this contrast from good to evil would have happened if Macbeth had never met the witches. I know that the witches didn't directly order him to kill, but I think they planted an evil seed in his mind, which he began to nurture in his own way. ...read more.

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