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What do you consider to be the significance of the witches in 'Macbeth?' In particular consider how they affect the plot, the characters and the mood of the play. How effectively are they portrayed in the productions you have watched?

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Introduction

What do you consider to be the significance of the witches in 'Macbeth?' In particular consider how they affect the plot, the characters and the mood of the play. How effectively are they portrayed in the productions you have watched? In the following piece of coursework I will be discussing the Shakespeare story of Macbeth, and its televised productions. I will also study the witches in the play, and consider what their significance is in the play. The witches are the first characters to appear in the play. Perhaps this is to set off the play on a frightening note. This part of the play, although, at the very beginning, is very significant, as it shows the witches casting a spell, which may make something go wrong, which we know it does disastrously, and as it happens, for Macbeth, who later appears in the spell, even though we have not yet met him. The weather conditions, in the written play being thunder and lightening, also give a hint that evil is playing tricks. In Roman Polanski's television production for the play, the beginning scene is set on an empty beach. There is no thunder and lightening, however, the dull, grey overcast conditions make the beach seem slightly eerie. ...read more.

Middle

It is not possible to tell when the play was set, due to the fact there is no set or background to base our guesses on, but judging from their costumes, it seems to be from the 16th century. In act 1 Scene 3, the scene where Banquo and Macbeth learn their fate, both plays have played this scene out quite differently. In Roman Polanski's production, the same three witches from the beach are there. After they tell Macbeth and Banquo what will happen, Banquo tries to find out more, but the witches run away. They do not simply vanish, as the play states, meaning that the element of reality is kept. This scene is set in the country hills, at the ruin of an old building, which we later learn is the den of the witches. After the witches have gone, Macbeth and Banquo talk casually about their encounter with the witches, almost as if they didn't quite believe what had just happened, Macbeth seems to reject the idea of the future foretold to him, and is very shocked when he is pronounced Thane of Cawdor. In Trevor's production, Macbeth and Banquo act towards the witches like they are the enemy, drawing their swords. ...read more.

Conclusion

After this, Macbeth awakens outside, with his horse. The witches have also made an exit, perhaps through a secret entrance. The entire scene is set at an eerie dusk. Trevor's production is somewhat different. We simply witness Macbeth taking a drink, while the witches comfort him, and tell him beware. The witches also blindfold Macbeth. They also rhyme, perhaps to set a feeling to Macbeth that a spell is being put on him. We then see Macbeth acting very frightened, obviously by what he sees ahead of him. The witches apply a silvery anointment to his body and head, seemingly in the shape of an upside down cross. This again, shows perhaps the religious side of the play, and how the divination has been turned upside down, by the murder of 'God on Earth'. After this scene is over, Macbeth seems to be mad when he his attendants tell him that Macduff has fled to England. In both productions, the scene Act 3 Scene 5 is not included. This is because many think that Shakespeare did not write this scene. Directors think it is not important, has no significance, and that it is best to keep the play as it was written, by the genius that is Shakespeare himself. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kelly Ann Craig Page 1 5/10/2007 ...read more.

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