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In the play MACBETH, what is the dramatic significance of the witches?

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Introduction

G.S.C.E ENGLISH / ENGLISH LITERATURE COURSEWORK MACBETH - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE In the play MACBETH, what is the dramatic significance of the witches? The Witches have many things that contribute to their dramatic significance; one of these things is their presentation. The first time the witches appear on stage they appear in thunder, lighting and in rain. All of these elements are traditionally very scary. They also talk in riddles for instance " When the battle's lost and won". But how can a battle be lost AND won? The riddles are explained later on in the play. But they appear at the start to establish the influence of the supernatural. They do this by speaking in riddles and they call on Greymalkin and Paddock who are their link to the spirit world and normally took on the form of an animal. They also talk about meeting Macbeth upon a heath. But when we meet Macbeth he does not expect to see them so we must assume that they foresaw that Macbeth would come that way. They are seen in very strange atmosphere's like "Hover through the fog and filthy air". Hover is a very abnormal movement. Hover means floating in the air, which is not humanly possible. Adding to scary elements, fog because in fog you have restricted vision. The second time we see them they are yet again situated in thunder, which again is scary. Also when we see them they are making a charm and telling a story. ...read more.

Middle

the witches add a brand new fear to the text, the fear that the witches can foresee the future. This is scary because the audience will think that since the witches can foresee the future they may be able to edit it. In the last scene where Macbeth visit's the 'Pit of Acheron' there is yet again thunder; this is a continuous pattern with the witches because the play is conveying them as being very scary old hags. When we meet them they are hanging around a cauldron, which is normally associated with witchcraft. They talk about evil things and people of the times for instance they add "the liver of blaspheming Jew". This once again shows us how Shakespeare reflects the politics of the time through his plays. So the witches talk of scary thing to scare the audience and reflect the politics of the time. We can see that the witches have some control over his actions because the normally loyal warrior we see at the start of the play turns into a "dead butcher" according to Malcolm. We can assume that the witches have some effect over Macbeth because when he goes to commit the murder of Duncan and he sees a dagger that is bloodied pointing him in the direction of Duncan chamber where he will commit the murder. Macbeth states, "Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle towards my hand?" This (added to the turmoil we see Macbeth go through earlier) ...read more.

Conclusion

Also later on in Act 1 scene 5 after Lady Macbeth has discovered about the predictions she calls the evil spirits out to 'unsex' her and fill her "from the crown to crown to the top full of direst cruelty". She says this in the hope that the spirits will make her ruthless and have the courage to murder Duncan. The witches will later called on the evil spirits to show Macbeth the apparitions. So Lady Macbeth and the witches have a lot in common they all call on the evil spirit's at one time or another in the play MACBETH. Shakespeare might of set out writing MACBETH intending to show the audience his view on women. He does this by showing how women are evil, two faced, double-crossing and horrible freaks. Although this is only one man's view of women in a time when women where made to stay at home and work. So in conclusion to the question in conclusion to the question "what is the dramatic significance of the witches in the play MACBETH" The dramatic significance of the witches is to show the power and fear of people with supernatural powers at Shakespeare time. Also they have to scare the audience by being spooky and mysterious. Also to show that he thought women where ugly beasts who were evil and on top of that he shows us all women are the same by making Lady Macbeth and the witches act in the same ways so the witches dramatic significance is a big chunk of the play MACBETH. Eddie Lismore 10D English Literature G.C.S.E Coursework ...read more.

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