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

The Significance of the Witches in ‘Macbeth’

Extracts from this document...


The Significance of the Witches in 'Macbeth' At the time 'Macbeth' was written witches played an important part in normal life. Everybody feared witches and their powers. Women even had to be scared in case they were accused of being a witch. At the time of Macbeth King James was paranoid about being killed by witches so this paranoia from the King travelled through England. When people went to see the play they would believe that things like the prophecies could actually happen. The audience would watch the play and see Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth) change from loyal subjects to royal murderers. To them this would look like they were being possessed by evil spirits. This may have caused the audience to feel sorry for Macbeth and his wife and their hatred of witches to grow more. When the curtains go back the first characters to be seen are the three witches. This signifies their importance over the play as a whole. The witches would have been instantly recognisable; wearing black and being an ugly woman would have meant being accused of being a witch. The witches meet in foul weather, this would have also implied that they were witches as witches were meant to be able to change the weather, bad weather brings evil spirits. ...read more.


The witches were unnaturally close to Macbeth and seemed to work with one mind with him. Had the thoughts of becoming King already crossed Macbeths' mind? Afterwards Banquo seems more focused; perhaps this is showing Macbeth gets lead easily. When the first prophecy comes true Macbeth doesn't doubt the witches at all. They have done what they had to, gain Macbeths' trust. From now on Macbeth is under their spell. Even though Lady Macbeth never meets the witches they still have some power over her. When she receives the letter from Macbeth she is the one that persuades him that to become king he will have to kill. Lady Macbeth appears to have evil in her already. The audience might wonder if she has met the witches before or if she has been possessed by evil spirits. When the time comes to kill King Duncan both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have to call upon the powers of darkness to make sure they have enough evil in them and no natural feelings of guilt and horror. The audience would see how the witches could change someone's personality. At this point in the play Macbeth isn't completely evil. This means he takes a lot of persuasion before he murders as he still has part of his own mind. ...read more.


After hearing this you assume Macbeth is going to die. . This is because; if you get told in a play that only one thing is to worry about that thing normally happens. As well as this Macbeth has already admitted weakness by going to revisit the witches. The apparitions are telling Macbeth he is safe. He still plans to kill Macduff because of the first apparition. This indicates it is the witches fault people are getting killed as Macbeth is easily led. Before Lady Macbeth dies she is heard talking of murders in her sleep. She is going over things that happened. Shakespeare is trying to show that you can't get away from your actions. The audience would see that once you are under a witches spell you can't get out of it. When Lady Macbeth dies Macbeth is emotionless, he no longer cares about the rest of the world. When Macbeth dies the audience sees that the apparition wasn't telling the whole truth. Macduff was of woman born but through caesarean birth. This might imply that although everyone thinks the witches had power over the play really they were just looking for someone to place the blame onto. Shakespeare was trying to show everyone has responsibility for their actions and can't blame someone/thing else. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachael Bates Page ...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. Give a detailed account of Polanksi’s treatment of Act 1 Scene 1 of ‘Macbeth’. ...

    This also brings about a reference to the witches being able to control nature. For example when they said they could produce a tempest. (1.3.25) "Though his bark cannot be lost/ Yet it shall be tempest-tost." In the background dark mountains are seen, which creates a haunting and evocative atmosphere.

  2. What is the Significance of the Witches in Macbeth?

    However Shakespeare does this to set the whole plays themes and atmosphere and also to show what is to come in the play. Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy by using thunder, lightning and a murky, strange atmosphere to present the witches.

  1. Analyse the Macbeth's marriage during the play, and explain why and how it changed

    He tells Macbeth this and asks Macbeth to talk to him about them. Macbeth shows how involved he now is and tells Banquo, his best friend- "I think not of them." This is of course a lie as Macbeth has thought about nothing else.

  2. Why is Act two Scene two an important scene in ‘Macbeth’?

    - Peace!' (II ii 2) as Lady Macbeth proceeds to mention that the sound she heard was an owl calling. This creates immediate tension in the scene which makes it exciting for the audience. Also, Shakespeare uses knocking sound effects toward the end of the scene.

  1. Discuss the impact Shakespeare is trying to achieve in Act 2 scene 3 of ...

    in a moment?', these speeches add to his ongoing pressure, which builds up over the scene. And continues these for a while, whereas everyone else is in panic and all are saying short sentences trying to think of what to do.

  2. Who Is Most To Blame For The Act Of Regicide In ‘Macbeth’?

    When Macbeth and Banquo finally come to meet the 'weird sisters' they are somewhat unnerved by their presence as they see creatures that "look not like th' inhabitants o' th' earth" The fact that the evil sisters are waiting for Macbeth in the first place suggests that they have something in mind.

  1. How effective is act one of ‘Macbeth’ in engaging and maintaining the audience interest?

    'Fair is foul, and foul is fair' summarises the witches' philosophy and proves to the audience that they are evil. It also proves to be a keynote throughout the play and is echoed many times. In scene one, the witches are finishing a meeting and are planning when they will meet again.

  2. What does the supernatural contribute to the interest of ‘Macbeth’?

    It helps to establish a connection between Macbeth and evil forces even before he has been introduced as the witches can foretell his future, 'When the battle's lost and won.' The opening scene also makes the audience aware of the deception and equivocation of the witches through the language they use.

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