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The Witches and Witchcraft

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The Witches and Witchcraft Macbeth was written in the early 17th century. The people at the time of the play that it was written, did actually believe in the power of witches to influence events or people. A typical image (although stereotypical) of a witch was 'an old weather-beaten crone, having the chin and her knees meeting for age, walking like a bow, leaning on a staff; hollow-eyed, untoothed, furrowed on her face, her limbs trembling with palsy, going mumbling in the streets; one who has forgotten her lords prayer, but who still has a sharp tongue to call a drab a drab.' These witches were thought to be able to fly, cause baroness, abortion in women impotence in men and control the weather. They were usually female, uneducated, poor, socially isolated, and of course old. Around 30, 000 executions of people to what were suspicious of being witches. King James I who was reigning at that time, actually believed in witches too. James actually wrote a book on witchcraft called Demonologies. As he told a jury in around 1591, 'witchcraft... is a thing grown very common amongst us. I know it to be a most abominable sin, and I have been occupied these three quarters of this year for the sifting out of them that are guilty therein... this is a most odious sin.' ...read more.


'I pull in resolution and begin to doubt th'equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth.' Banquo states and he warns Macbeth that the witches are evil and will get him to take the bait. This is good advice. Though throughout the play, two major influences are upon Macbeth. The witches of course, and His wife Lady Macbeth. They both in a way form an evil axis that work on Macbeth's ambition. If the witches actually had total control over Macbeth, it really would not be interesting, because Shakespeare has made it exciting, by making the temptations and persuasions. Macbeth actually had potential to be good and fight evil, not be for it. He could have been a well-liked noble. The witches obviously influenced this, and feel a large sense of achievement. It was all his own choice, he decided to kill his best friends, Banquo and Duncan and other nobles. He actually threw away totally the chance of being great and mighty and to live to his name. The audience actually in a way do feel a little sympathetic at the beginning, they want him to achieve king, now he is and has caused evil, and we don't feel so considerate. Lady Macbeth receives a letter that her husband sent her about the encounter with the three witches. She reacts in such a way that she decides that she must seize the moment and assassinate the king almost immediately. ...read more.


This again demonstrates how evil and bloodthirsty Macbeth is becoming, for he killed his best friend. Macbeth throughout the play gets worse and worse. 'By the worst means the worst', this just demonstrates how evil Macbeth becomes. Banquo states 'win us with honest trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence.' Saying that the witches try to make you believe them, and then they betray you, of which they do He even goes back to the witches. This shows how cold blooded he becomes. Macbeth at the start thinks he can control time and fate. Now we see throughout, that time and fate control him! The witches devote Macbeth into thinking himself invincible, a demonstration of Macbeth being deceived by the evil witches. Scotland is like a body. It is being slowly hacked to death. Macbeth is turning Scotland into a wasteland. He also is turning too. Macbeth is also compared with Edward of England. They are totally opposite. Macbeth is so evil, that people don't even say his name now, and so they refer to him as the 'tyrant'. He is also in league with the witches. Edward is in league with God. Macbeth is a sort of 'disease'. On the contrary, Edward can apparently cure people by the laying of his hands on them. He is good, Macbeth is evil. Edward is a saint; Macbeth is a 'monster'! This play is like a warning. Shakespeare shows to the audience, that going evil is a 'shortcut' to hell. Do what's right; don't just follow your dreams and ambitions...! ...read more.

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