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Look very carefully at Act 1, scene 3 (L.30 - 62) and comment on the significance of the witches' predictions. How do the witches affect what happens in the play, and how do you visualise them on stage?

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Response to Shakespeare: Macbeth Look very carefully at Act 1, scene 3 (L.30 - 62) and comment on the significance of the witches' predictions. How do the witches affect what happens in the play, and how do you visualise them on stage? Throughout Shakespeare's life, witches and witchcraft were the objects of fevered fascination. Between 1560 and 1603 hundreds of people (nearly all women) were convicted as witches and executed. Witches were credited with diabolical powers. They could predict the future, fly, sail in sieves, bring on night in daytime and kill animals. They were thought to have cursed enemies with wasting diseases, induced nightmares and sterility, and could take possession of any individual they chose. This brings into the play the idea of fate and the role with which it has in the play. One can wonder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches. The three witches in "Macbeth" are introduced right at the beginning of the play. The first line in the play introduces the witches and sets the scene perfectly, " Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches" Immediately the reader get the vision of a remote "desolate place", as described in the book. ...read more.


Lady Macbeth insults her husband's love for her and manhood, finally they both set out ensuring that the prophecy of the third witch also comes true. Macbeth remains insecure throughout the play and comes to rely on the witches' second sight completely. He returns to see them, alone this time, to find out his fate in order to see what actions he should take. This shows that the witches did have a great influence on his actions. The three haggard witches along with Hecate show Macbeth three apparitions. The first apparition says, "beware Macduff", the second apparition tells Macbeth "The power of man, for none born of woman shall harm Macbeth". The final apparition says " that Macbeth will not be defeated ... until Great Burnam wood to high Dunsinane hill" comes against him. These apparitions reassure Macbeth on one hand but make him fearful on the other. Macbeth reassures himself how can a man not be born of woman, it sounds ludicrous to him. But he feels compelled to act, and resolves to kill not only Macduff but also every member of his family and castle, " his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace in his line". This is a horrific scene, which shows Macbeth's loyal murders wipe out the whole castle. ...read more.


They are clearly the most dangerous characters in the play, being both tremendously powerful and wicked. As I read the play I visualise the witches on stage as three weird sisters who look quite alien and inhuman compared to the rest of the characters, it raises a question of whether the three witches are from this planet. The audience is left to ask whether the witches are responsible for the string of tragic events that happen in the play. I think that the three sisters' predictions are significant to the play because they spur Macbeth's "vaulting ambition". Some of their prophecies seem self-fulfilling. For example, it is doubtful that Macbeth would have murdered his king without the push given by the witches' predictions. In other cases, though, their prophecies are just accurate readings of the future-it is hard to see Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane as being self-fulfilling. The play offers no easy answers. Instead, Shakespeare keeps the witches well outside the limits of human reality. The witches play the central part of the story. Also witchcraft and the supernatural were considered to be potent, powerful forces at the time in which the play is set. I think that the witches are an important element in the tragedy that unfolds. GCSE English Language Coursework 3: response to Shakespeare Winter term By Shayon McClements Page: 2 ...read more.

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