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In 'Macbeth', Shakespeare's usage of the witches is probably the most significant aspect of the play. They provide the pivotal to the plot and the catalyst to Macbeth's life.

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Introduction

Discuss the dramatic effectiveness of Shakespeare's presentation of the witches in 'Macbeth'. In 'Macbeth', Shakespeare's usage of the witches is probably the most significant aspect of the play. They provide the pivotal to the plot and the catalyst to Macbeth's life. At the time 'Macbeth' was written, people were particularly cautious about the presence of so-called witchcraft within their society. Shakespeare, by using witches as the source of the turmoil in this play, was playing on and further stirring up their evident fear of the paranormal, thus making his dramatic techniques all the more effective. At this time, the audience were strong believers in the 'Divine Right of Kings' and would have been absolutely appalled at Macbeth's and the witches actions in obtaining and maintaining the throne. I believe 'Macbeth' shows the general struggle between good and evil in today's society, the individual struggle between either furthering your own ends, or choosing to help others. The witches' are an outer and extremely visual manifestation of all the negative aspects of human nature, and 'Macbeth' shows perfectly well what our faults can make us capable of doing, if fostered in the correct way. It is didactic of the pain that human nature can create. Any time the witches open a scene, Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy in that there is thunder and lightning present. The storm conditions signify an imbalance in nature, a bad omen that suggests the witches are supernaturally evil and wrong. ...read more.

Middle

His use of stage directions also play a part in highlighting the supernaturalism of the witches. The very presence of 'apparitions' in the play add to its mysterious theme. The witches' 'familiars' in the very first scene provide their constant link with primal evil, "I come Greymalkin! Paddock calls." emphasising their need to feed their desire for a constant presence of evil. Regarding other characters of "Macbeth", the witches effectively influence a considerable amount of their actions in the play, the most obvious being Macbeth himself. You could say that the witches caused Macbeth to act in the way he did. It is rather more complex than that, I believe the witches sparked off evil inside him, evil that can be fostered from the general faults of human nature in some, easier than others. They were the catalyst to his selfish desires and he had invited them into his life; "Stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more." This line also presents Macbeth's curiosity for what the witches have told him. They push him to the point where he questions his own actions and they are the trigger to his paranoia and hallucinations. The meal with the Lords is a prime example of how the witches affected Macbeth, "If thou canst nod, speak too. If charnel-houses and our graves must send Those that we bury back". He imagines the ghost of Banquo sitting before him, whilst no-one can see the apparition, thus showing us the extent of his psychological unstableness. ...read more.

Conclusion

"When?" "Now." "As I descended?" This is written in a way that shows a shattered conversation, written in a layout unlike previous times. It's disjointed and represents their shattered emotions at what they've done and their drifting apart from each other. The actions of the witches go on to cause turmoil and chaos for most other characters in the drama. What is interesting is that the witches themselves are the primary cause of the problems and yet they go on unpunished and it is the innocent that suffer. This shows us they are true evil, motivated by chaos and they don't give a care towards the people they destroy. I believe William Shakespeare was very effective in his portrayal of the witches. He makes it clear that they are nothing like other characters in his use of language and written format. That they are inhumane and they subvert normality as it stands in both Shakespeare's and today's society, creating a force of evil that will always find a way into our lives. Macbeth even goes on to orchestrate the murder of his best friend Banquo as he feels Banquo is standing in the way of his success. This shows that the evil the witches created had the capability of driving and pushing him towards doing absolutely ANYTHING in order to satisfy his nurtured lust for control. "Macbeth" presents the contemporary theory that suggests becoming heavily involved with evil-doing will eventually, down the line, lead to your own pain, "Bloody instructions, which being taught return To plague th' inventor." In other words, what goes around, comes around. ...read more.

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