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What is a witch? Macbeth

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By Andrew Swale What is a witch? The Colllins Gem Dictionary and Thesaurus defines a witch as a person, usually female believed to practise (black) magic. It also goes on to describe a witch to be an ugly, wicked and fascinating woman. In most places of the world today, witches are thought to be make-believe, but in the time of Macbeth they were very much real. There were said to be two main types of witches, the first, lonely old women who made medicines from herbs and kept pets for company. The second were women who believed they had powers, and took the medicines/mixtures, therefore hallucinating, and they believed this to be the power of the devil. Many of them often believed they had had sex with the devil. The witches play an important part in the play of "Macbeth" and are featured in the very first scene. Act 1 Scene1 is short but gives us an introduction to the witches and the play. The scene starts off with Witch1 saying, "When shall we three meet again....". This makes us think of what has been happening beforehand. Witch1 then goes on to say, "In thunder, lightning or in rain?" ...read more.


She doesn't seem to have any reflection of God in her which indicates a lack of redemption, whereas Macbeth has his beautiful language. In this scene she shows she has a good chance of being labelled the fourth witch, when she decides that when the King visits, he will not leave alive. The raven is mentioned as it is black and its cry was meant to foretell death. She also calls upon her 'spirits'. She has quickly decided that the king won't leave alive. It is a male thing to murder which is why she says, "unsex me." She wants darkness for her murder which is why she says, "Come, thick night." Lady Macbeth wears the trousers in this marriage, showing this when at the end of the scene she says, "Leave all the rest to me." A couple of scenes later King Duncan arrives and Lady Macbeth is on hyper drive. Macbeth does not want to commit the murder but Lady Macbeth convinces him to do it. She doesn't like failure and she immediately goes into the arrangements, as she is calculated and ready. Macbeth is very impressed. When the dead King is discovered by Macduff, the first thing Lady Macbeth says is, "What, in our house!" ...read more.


He did not think this could happen but Macduff was delivered by a caesarean section. The third apparition tells that Macbeth will never be vanquished until Great Birnam wood comes to high Dunsinane hill. Dunsinane hill is Macbeth's castle, and Great Birnam wood is 10 miles away from this place. The forth apparition shows a line of eight kings. Some of these carry two-fold balls and treble sceptres. The two-fold balls represent the uniting of England and Scotland, the treble sceptres represent England, Scotland and Wales. This also shows that James 1 descended from Banquo. James 1 would probably come to see the play, so Shakespeare is flattering him. He may be doing this to avoid persecution for being a Catholic. Shakespeare kept a low profile and carried favour with the king. The line of kings show that Banquo's children will become kings, but none of Macbeth's. The witches sing and dance and then vanish; are they doing this to mock Macbeth or cheer him up? I doubt the latter. The witches play a very important part in the play of Macbeth. They give us clues to what is going to happen and they entertain us with their antics and their language. They portray a different world from ours and without them, the play would be nothing. ...read more.

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