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What Contribution Do The Witches Make To The Play, “Macbeth”?

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What Contribution Do The Witches Make To The Play, "Macbeth"? In the Sixteenth century people were a lot more sceptical about supernatural happenings. For instance the majority of Britain believed in witches and groups of communities searched and burned, drowned or hung anyone they suspected of being a witch. These groups had no way of proving if those suspected were witches or not. They just acted upon their instincts. A lot of these superstitions are included in "Macbeth" for instance when Lady Macbeth has fallen ill and has fallen into a trance and sleep walks, she has no awareness of the surroundings which suggests that she has been taken over by a darker force which was believed to be possible qualities of a witch. There are also many references to vision which witches were commonly known to have caused e.g. when Macbeth visits the witches and sees the apparitions: "What'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks; Thou hast harpend my fear aright. ...read more.


The witches also add theme and atmosphere to the play. Simply by being witches they scare and mystify the audience. Banquo talks about their looks in Act 1 scene 3: "How far is't called to Forres? What are these, That look not like the inhabitants of the earth, And yet are on it? - live you, or are you aught That man may question? You seem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger lying upon her skinny lips; you should be women And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so." He really explains how ugly they are saying they should be women but they have beards, they look unearthly and have choppy (skinny and horrid) fingers, he can't seem to grasp that the witches are a combination of male and female characteristics, this speech I feel really adds atmosphere. The witches also add the opportunity of special effects with all the smoke and fog being present when they appear. ...read more.


In Act 3, scene 2 the lines are placed in long lines because there is no need of panic and hurry. In "Macbeth" Shakespeare has his scenes all ending in rhyme to show that it is coming to an end of a scene, as there was no other way to let the audience know that the end of a scene was approaching: "Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may, The night is long that never find day." (Act 1 scene 3) The witches' behaviour is weird/ different as well as the way they shuffle and then disappear into thin air which obviously isn't normal "The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?" (Act 1 Scene 3 lines 76 - 78) In conclusion I don't think the witches contribute to the play "Macbeth", I think they create it, fuel it, keep it interesting and entertaining and I think Shakespeare knew this would be the outcome when he wrote it. Phillip Brown 11N English Coursework ...read more.

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