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Influence of the witches in Macbeth

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What is the influence of the witches and supernatural in general on the play Macbeth? The witches or "weird sisters" in Macbeth are used by Shakespeare to grab people's attention and draw people's interest right from the very beginning of the play (scene 1) while also introducing the theme of evil into the play. In the times of Shakespeare, there was an intense interest in 'witches' because people genuinely believed in them and feared them. King James had also written a book about Witches which also enhanced the interest in them. The witches are the main supernatural in the play and they have a big influence on Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the play in general. Without them being included, Macbeth would surely not have taken the path that it did to become King as well as an evil tyrant and Lady Macbeth would not have been driven, by greed and lust for the crown, to the extent of murder and regicide. Both would have also not been lead to their deaths without them. Although the Witches only feature in a few scenes, their presence is essential and they are the key characters that promote Macbeth to the position of King and then lead him to his downfall with his death following after. The three witches first appear at the very beginning of the play. The first scene is very short, but full of impact. The thunder and lightning alone give it a dramatic opening, which helps to grab the interest of the audience, as it is representative of evil. ...read more.


The Witches are indirectly the cause of the death of King Duncan because it is their prophecies that make Macbeth a more cunning man and they lead him to kill Duncan with the encouragement of Lady Macbeth. The Witches could be seen to use Macbeth's very ambitious character against him Shortly before Macbeth kills Duncan he sees a 'dagger'. This event maybe a supernatural one or just part of Macbeth's imagination. Although it is not specified the 'dagger' can be seen to be shown to Macbeth by the Witches. Assuming that the dagger is a supernatural, its influence on Macbeth is that it 'points' him in the direction of murdering Duncan. When Macbeth says, 'Is this a dagger I see before me', it seems as if he is surprised and he is under the influence to pick the 'dagger' up and use it. As Macbeth struggles with his conscience, the 'dagger', in a way helps to make Macbeth's decision as to whether Duncan should be killed or not. Another supernatural in the play is the 'ghost' of Banquo. When Macbeth and his very important guests come to visit him at his castle for a feast in celebration of his coronation, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his chair. He is clearly scared and he says, 'Thou canst not say I did it; never shake thy gory locks at me'. The Ghost of Banquo has an influence on Macbeth because it makes him feel remorse and sorry for his actions reducing him to guilty wretch. ...read more.


This is not a major influence of the witches because it is seen as a way of expressing the anger and misery of the loss of King Duncan. The witches seem to be able to influence people in general who they want for example, the woman who 'munch'd and munch'd' on chestnuts was terrorised by the Witches and food was demanded from her. The witches were going to destroy her husband's boat, by sending winds because they did not get want they wanted, implying their dominance over people and nature as well. Overall it seems as though the Witches can influence anyone or anything as whenever they want to and their evil actions are purely for their own pleasure. Evidence of this is when the Hecate which was the Witches leader who was their 'goddess' was angry with the fact that the Witches meddled with Macbeth without her showing that she wanted to contribute to the downfall of Macbeth. They influence Macbeth's actions. The storyline of Macbeth would not be so without the influence of the Witches because it is them that lead Macbeth on the path that he took, all the way to his death. The Witches are the supreme beings and the most powerful with the ability to fill people's minds with greed, lust, power, ambition and glory influencing their actions and the Witches won Macbeth's trust and trick him into a false sense of security driving Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to their deaths. ...read more.

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