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Shakespeare's presentation of the opening scene of "Macbeth" is very dramatic creating an ominous and foreboding atmosphere. Shakespeare immediately sets the tone for the rest of the play through his presentation of the witches. In his opening stage directions he refers to the sound effects of the "thunder and lightning" for Shakespeare's audience this had great significance as it represented to them black magic. Of course today's audience would not respond to thunder and lightning in the same way. The fact that he states that the scene takes place in "an open barren place" it is also significant for a number of reasons because........... Shakespeare then states "enter three witches" we do not know how they appear on stage, they may have come up through trap doors or been lowered onto the stage. However they appeared on stage it is clear that they would have had a major impact on Shakespeare's audience. When Shakespeare was writing in the early C17th, most people believed in witches and the supernatural. There were regular witch- hunts and even laws passed in 1604? To make witchcraft punishable by death. Of course modern audiences are not as superstitious as and do not believe in witches; however actors and others associated with the theatre are reluctant to call the play "Macbeth" and call it the Scottish play. ...read more.


Macbeth seems bewildered when the witches tell him that he will be king. After finding this out he is inquisitive and tells the witches to stay and answer his questions. Banquo- When Banquo meets the three witches he is very self inquisitive, wanting to know about his future. He is also quite curious to know what the weird sisters are and what they can do. Banquo when he meets the sisters questions their appearances questioning whether they are men or women he says "Upon her skinny lips: you should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so." The witches meet Hecate in Act 3 Scene five. This scene is believed to be a later addition to the play because the rhyming schemes are different to other scenes involving the witches. The Elizabethan audience knew Hecate was the goddess of witchcraft and her presence would have created the desired effect of disturbing and unnerving the audience. Hecate is angry with the witches for dealing with Macbeth as he is not committed to witchcraft. The only other significant reference scene is to the pit of Acheron their cavern (a river in Hell)Hecate tells them to go and prepare the spell for Macbeth's arrival. ...read more.


their dramatic influence can be felt through out the play. This emphasises their function and importance. For example the witches have a major influence over Lady Macbeth as it says in Act 1 Scene 5 "Great Glamis! Worthy Cawdor! Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!" This is similar to the way that the three witches great Macbeth and this shows us that the three witches have a certain amount of influence or control over her. Also Lady Macbeth says "unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood;" this significant as Lady Macbeth is asking spirits to take away here femininity and Banquo says in Act 1 scene 3 This shows that Banquo can not tell that the three witches are women yet they should be and Lady Macbeth is asking to be almost similar to the witches! Lady Macbeth Sleepwalks in Act 1 Scene 5 as she is trying to wash a spot of blood from her hands that only she can see this was considered in Shakespeare's time to be the mark of the devil which the witches would be strongly linked to having. Sleep is a recurring theme in Macbeth as the witches use it against certain victims. ...read more.

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