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How does the inclusion of the witches in Macbeth heighten the dramatic impact of the play?

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Introduction

´╗┐Macbeth Coursework How does the inclusion of the witches in Macbeth heighten the dramatic impact of the play? Macbeth is a play written by the renowned playwright William Shakespeare in the early 17th century. Originally produced for the King of Denmark, the play explores themes such as ambition and betrayal through the actions of the main protagonist Macbeth. The play?s other significant figures include three witches whose practice of sorcery attracted a lot of controversy towards the play. At the time, their inclusion heightened the dramatic impact on the audience; primarily because of the public?s view of witches. Also referred to as the ??weird sisters??, they form a fundamental element of the play because it is their input that shapes the play into action. During this period of time, the mainstream population of Europe was Christian and superstitious, therefore belief in witchcraft was at its peak and so-called ??witches?? were persecuted. Supposedly, witches (along with Satan) ...read more.

Middle

Also, Shakespeare specifically chose the weather in this scene to be threatening, to reflect the negative view of witches at the time and to elevate the dramatic impact by making them see more powerful (witches were associated with the ability to manipulate the weather). The technique of using elements of nature to express mood is known as pathetic fallacy. In this scene, the first impression that the audience are given of the witches is that they are unattractive. For instance, the quotes ??your beards?? and ??skinny lips?? suggests that the witches are ugly and depict them as being unnatural due to having masculine characteristics. Shakespeare has done this to add to the negative interpretation of witches, which in turn heightens the dramatic impact (because the realistic appearance of the witches would frighten the audience). He also uses other characters to highlight the appearance of the witches and therefore raise the dramatic impact on the audience. ...read more.

Conclusion

Once again, the witches are depicted as being unnatural because of their ability to prophesise the future. Imagery is used cleverly in many ways by Shakespeare to show the witches in a negative light and add to the dramatic impact. For example, in Act 4 Scene 1, the 1st witch says ??round and round the cauldron go, in the poisoned entrails throw??. This quote emphasizes the popular belief (at the time) that witches chant around their cauldrons which consisted of nauseating ingredients such as rats (creates the image that witches are sick). Also, the witches simultaneously say ??double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble??, this makes the spell resemble a song more and consequently it increases the dramatic impact. To conclude, the inclusion of the witches in the play undeniably helps to heighten the dramatic impact on a Shakespearean audience. This is mainly because of his successful methods, for example when using pathetic fallacy. Today, however, his masterpiece has not been as popular and effective at creating a negative image of witches because of the enormous change in the public?s view of witches. ...read more.

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