• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. How does Shakespeare exploit the contemporary interest in witchcraft and the supernatural in Macbeth ...

    Therefore Shakespeare pays homage to James the First's ancestor Banquo who becomes the hero of the play. Unlike Macbeth he does not become evil in the play. The historical story line has Banquo killed as well as Macbeth. However, historically Banquo was an accomplice to the murder of Duncan.

  2. Shakespeare and Witchcraft.

    Although facing overwhelming forces, Macbeth and Banquo rallied their troops and fought on savagely, and, finally, pushed the Norwegians back. This is an indication of Macbeth's ability to lead men, showing how, when facing defeat, men would follow Macbeth. They trusted him with their lives, even the other Thanes.

  1. How do the Witches in Macbeth Reflect contemporary ideas of witchcraft? Are the Witches ...

    Macbeth's first prediction; 'none of woman born shall harm Macbeth', is also proved to be deceiving as Macduff, the person he was warned to fear, reveals that he was of caesarean birth and so he can, by the witches prediction, kill Macbeth, which he does.

  2. How would an audience in the time if Shakespeare reacts to the role of ...

    It was also believed that they could sail in a sieve which is shown with the sentence from one of the witches "Sail in sieve I'll thither sail, I give thee wind" This also shows another power of the witches that they could create any weather that would suit them.

  1. The Witches and Witchcraft

    You can see this, by watching Macbeth. Since he first encountered the witches, he has been going down hill all the way since he first created evil and is just getting more and more evil. They are powerful, but not totally in control. They can do much harm, but cannot kill 'though his bark cannot be lost, yet it shall be tempest-tossed.'

  2. Form an opinion on how Shakespeare in his play "Macbeth" appeals to seventeenth century ...

    Accordingly, there were a number of attributes given to the witch, for example people believed that witches were able to change their shape into that of an animal, that they could fly in the night and that they were able to control the weather and the winds to name only a few.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work