• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Importance of the Witches In Macbeth

Extracts from this document...


The importance of the Witches in Macbeth Witches in the time of Shakespeare and during the whole of the reign of Elizabeth I and during king James reign, witches were the object of morbid fascination. Between 1560 and 1603, over 16,000 people were burned to death after being convicted as witches. Most of these people were women. Most people believed in witches and gruesome details of the trials of witches were published and people read them in the way they might read the tabloid newspapers today. They were to said to have the power to see into the future, fly, change day into night, cause fogs and tempests (like the witches do in Act 1 Scene 3) and kill animals (using animal parts in the spell in Act 4 Scene 1). Act 1 Scene 1 The three witches in Macbeth are introduced at the very beginning of the play in Act 1 Scene 1. By introducing them at this time, they give an overall feel to the play of evil and the atmosphere of the supernatural. This creates imagery of darkness, nightime and storms. This is a metaphor of the idea of the play showing the 'dark side' of human nature. It is in this time of thunder and rain that they tell Macbeth three predictions which is one of the most important parts of the play. ...read more.


He may believe that these prophecies will only bring harm. So Macbeth is warned by his friend before he makes any decisions about the witches and what they suggest. If you follow the path of evil then there's no escape. Banquo "often times to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths." But Macbeth's ambition gets the better of him - the thought of killing Duncan is already in his mind, "why do I yield to that suggestion... my thought, whose murder is yet fantastical." The witches seem to show that if a idea is planes in someone's mind, then the actions which are carried out by this person are not any responsibility of them, they merely give the idea. It shows people for what they are, the dark and cunning sides of people. We can see this in Macbeth in the lines 139 and 142; Macbeth: Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is But what is not. Banquo: Look at how our partner's rapt Macbeth: If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me Without my stir. The destructive 'seed' has already been planted in his mind and Banquo's warning seems to go unnoticed. Act 4 Scene 1 The scene is started with the witches in a desolate place, creating a spell. ...read more.


Macbeth chooses to gamble with his soul and when he does this it is only him who chooses to lose it. He is responsible for anything he does and must take total accountability for his actions. Macbeth is the one who made the final decision to carry out his actions. He made these final decisions and continued with the killings to gain his thirst for power. The killing of Duncan starts an unstoppable chain of events in the play that ends with the eventual death of Macbeth and the suicide of his wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth, in the beginning had all of the qualities of an honourable gentleman and in the end of the play he is shown to have become a murderer, with him playing part in the murder of families and royalty. The witches merely show Macbeth for the person he really is under influence of Macbeth simply lusting after dreams of power and of the future. Generally, then, in a play of that time, with a superstitious audience, at a time when power struggles between the monarchs were normal, this bloody and evil theme was a popular one. The witches, symbols of evil, superstition and mystery were an easy way for Sakespeare to use to bring out these dark ideas of murder and betrayal. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Malory's Magical Medieval Women - The Role and Importance of Women in Le Morte ...

    when she grows tired of him, before using the magic that he has taught her to imprison him there.

  2. Examine the role of the witches in Macbeth.

    I think that 'Hecate' is a particularly powerful word to use as Hecate was traditionally thought to be the goddess of witchcraft. At the beginning of the soliloquy Macbeth is using euphemisms for murder, like 'the bloody business'. However, towards the end of the soliloquy, the language has developed and now includes words like 'murder' and 'horror'.

  1. Discuss the importance of the witches and Supernatural to 'Macbeth'

    When he does come on stage the first words he says are "so foul and fair a day a day I have not seen" this is a very important use of dramatic irony because it is a deliberate echo of the witches' first words of the play.

  2. Discuss the function and role of the witches in Macbeth.

    At this point the witches have been a catalyst for the evil in Macbeth because this is partly due to the prophecies as they did not say anything about killing the king but only make Macbeth stir up the thoughts in his head.

  1. Discuss the role and importance of the witches and the supernatural in Macbeth

    Throughout history witches have appeared in literature. Even the bible contains references to the occult, where king Saul goes to the witch of Endor, who will do nothing for him at first, because he has "cut off those that have familiar spirits and the wizards out of the land" but eventually she summons up the dead prophet Samuel.

  2. The importance of the three witches in Macbeth.

    When convicted they were burnt at the stake. Many women died because of these fears and beliefs. In Macbeth these witches are very effective. They don't lie but whatever they say has some truth but can turn out to be bad; they do play tricks.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work