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The Witches

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Introduction

The witches in Macbeth are very important in the plot and develop certain aspects of the play. They make greater the theatrical experience with images of darkness, thunder and lightning that make Macbeth the tragedy it is. Their actions also add to the play, dancing round the cauldron and chanting 'Double, double...'. Their appearance as 'dark hags' adds mystery to the play. The witches also add a sense of evil and of the supernatural. Their chanting, 'Double, double, toil and trouble: Fire burn and cauldron bubble' is rhythmic and has an almost hypnotic quality to it. There is a repetition of the magical word 'thrice'. The fact that there are three witches is emphasised, because in a time where Paganism was feared (three was a magical number in Paganism.), the number three was seen as evil. It was also a magical number because of the holy trinity The ingredients that the witches add to the cauldron are associated with the themes of death: 'finger of birth-strangled babe.'; crime: 'grease that's sweaten from the murderer's gibbet.'; evil: 'Tartar's lips.'; poison 'adder's fork'; and damnation: 'Liver of blaspheming Jew'. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that the charm is good is heavily ironic as it seals Macbeth's fate. However, he continues to plan the murders of Macduff. 'But yet I'll make assurance double sure.' I think this is because he is so insecure. After he sees the vision, he is angry and curses the witches as 'filthy hags'. He is obsessed about Banquo which I think is understandable as he has seen the ghost of Banquo at the banquet. He also unwittingly damns himself by exclaiming 'and damn'd [be] all that trust them' because he was the very person who trusted them. However, he could be just covering up his tracks so that Lenox would not suspect that Macbeth was in league with 'the weird sisters'. At line 25, the witches laugh at Macbeth 'but why stands Macbeth thus amaz?dly?' They are mocking him heavily and makes him look pathetic in our eyes. It shows how the witches have power over Macbeth and how Macbeth is a weak king. ...read more.

Conclusion

They witches have tricked Macbeth. I don't think that Macbeth realises this danger: 'Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?' The witches trick and tempt Macbeth by advising him to 'seek no more' on whether Banquo's descendants will be kings. This only serves to command the witches to show him. The witches do with relish, to 'grieve his [Macbeth's] heart' This makes Macbeth determined to alter fate. When the witches went, Lenox tells Macbeth that Macduff has fled to England. As the witches have tricked him, Macbeth does not fear from Macduff and so he damns himself further by plots the murder of Macduff's family. These tricks by the witches move the plot on and show how important the witches are in the play. As the witches said before Macbeth entered, 'The charm is firm and good.' and Macbeth's fate is sealed. However, we can only say how important the witches are after we assess how responsible they are for the events in the play by merely predicting what will happen. ...read more.

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