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Examine the role of witches in Macbeth. How fair would it be to call Lady Macbeth a fourth witch?

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Examine the role of witches in Macbeth. How fair would it be to call Lady Macbeth a fourth witch? In Jacobean times witches were believed in by almost everyone. They were seen as real, and so genuine that people were burned at the stakes who were accused of witchcraft. This is because people at the time could only blame things on witches as an explanation for anything bad event that happened instead of blaming on science like we do today. The typical witch was an evil old woman with a cat and with the ability to have magical powers. These include: predicting the future, giving people nightmares, hallucinations and changing the weather. For example, if the crop failed one year, people would say it was an evil witch who had made the weather so bad to make the crop fail. At the start of the play, the witches appear and introduce themselves and they ask each other when they meet again. They say (act 1, scene 1), "When the hurlyburly's done, when the battle is lost and won," and then, "There to meet with Macbeth." So they say they're going to meet Macbeth when a battle is finished. ...read more.


As soon as Macbeth meets the witches, the witches start off by casting a spell in their cauldron, making some sort of potion for Macbeth to drink. He drinks this and this results in him seeing four apparitions. The first one is an armed head saying beware of Macduff. Next is a baby saying, "... for no-one of woman born shall harm Macbeth", next is the one saying that Macbeth shall never be beaten until Birnam wood moves to Dunsinane and then finally Macbeth sees a line of eight kings descended from Banquo. The words spoken by the first apportion seem clear enough to Macbeth. He notes that, "thou hast harped my fear aright," meaning that this supports Macbeth's suspicions of Macduff. On hearing the words of the second apparition, Macbeth interprets it to mean that Macduff will in fact not harm him, as Macduff - and surely all men - is 'of a woman born'. Even so, Macbeth is determined to make sure that Macduff can't harm him: "But yet I'll make assurance double sure." The words of the third apparition seem quite puzzling. It says, (act 4, scene 1) "Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him." ...read more.


Therefore I conclude that she is a witch but has nothing to do with the other three witches. But towards the end of the play, a role reversal has taken place between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. At the end of the play, Macbeth feels like he's unstoppable and can rule over Scotland for ever and that he's invincible. However, Lady Macbeth feels very guilty at the end; so guilty that she can no longer sleep and she sleepwalks. An onlooker says, (act 5, scene 1) "take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it... yet all this while in most fast sleep." This means that she's doing this all in her sleep. She is factually asleep but she's doing all these writing tasks at the same time. She also says, "Out dammed spot, out I say!" She's seeing imaginary blood on her hands because she helped Macbeth kill Duncan, and she's seeing his blood on her hands. She's so guilty that she's seeing those things, the she kills herself. Witches are not known to have a guilty conscience; so much that one would kill herself. So, yes she's a witch in terms of what she's done and how she managed to kill Macbeth, but she kills herself and the end which could be evidence that she isn't a real witch. ?? ?? ?? ?? Bruce Weir 11B 1 ...read more.

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