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Coursework Essay How does Shakespeare present the witches in Act One Scenes One and Three of Macbeth and what is their role in the play? William Shakespeare's tragic play of Macbeth was written in the 1600's, at a time when Shakespeare's contemporary society believed in witches and witchcraft. One of those who also believed in these supernatural and blasphemous activities was King James I, the king of England at the time. It was alleged that a group of witches tried to plot against him so he introduced a law to ban people from practicing witchcraft. Subsequently, if anyone was caught doing so they would have been executed. King James' belief grew stronger so he wrote a book on the subject, entitled "Demonology". This may have inspired Shakespeare to write Macbeth, a tragic play which is about power, betrayal, greed and ones desire to fulfill ones ambition instigated by a foreshadowing of supernatural events. The witches in Act One Scene One are used to create a fearful and mysterious atmosphere. The witches enter a "battlefield" and the weather is ghastly. The stage direction says "thunder and lightning". The whether is symbolic because we associate it with terror, fear and misery creating an ominous and foreboding atmosphere. ...read more.


We don't know who they are they ruled by. It is as if they come from a dimension beyond human understanding. The witches also indicate their supernatural and abnormalness by using paradoxes and contradictions for example they all say "fair is foul and foul is fair". The witches have created a subversive and frenzied atmosphere, this makes it even more confusing for the audience. Furthermore the subversive atmosphere they have created begins to pervade the rest of the play. The paradoxical language leaks into the language of other characters. Shakespeare continues to build on his presentation of the witches in Act One Scene Three. Even though they seem evil the fact that they refer to each other as "sister" could mean they are in fact quite close, there is a sense of collective scheming, for example when they combine their powers before they meet Macbeth "thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, and thrice again, to make up nine". Shakespeare continues to use many language devices in Act One Scene Three to add to their sense of mystery. "Drain him as dry as hay", is a simile that shows their power over each other by comparison. ...read more.


The role of the witches therefore is to be a catalyst to Macbeth's tragic transformation. The witches are agents of temptation and create the necessary chaos. Shakespeare's use of stagecraft language and setting establish the witches' role and make them critical in Macbeth's tragic demise. In conclusion we can interpret the witches to not lure Macbeth into killing Duncan but just tell him what is going to happen, however having full knowledge that Macduff will defeat Macbeth but they purposely provoke him to false confidence by telling him no man born of woman can defeat him, anyone would fell safe by this because everyone is born of women, but Macduff was born by caesarian section, which is not technical "birth". They don't really have full control of the play but you can tell by their language there is something worrying about their character, also the fact that Lady Macbeth asked the witches for the spiritual powers to "unsex" her and fill her with "direst cruelty", but later on she states "out damed spot" this could be here asking to get rid of the cruelty that the witches have possessed her with already. Witches were also believed to leave devil scars on people, the "spot" could be her scar. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 By Attaullah Mirlashari ...read more.

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