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What is the dramatic impact of Act 1 scenes 1 and 3 of Macbeth, and how do these scenes relate to the play as a whole?

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Introduction

14th August 2000 What is the dramatic impact of Act 1 scenes 1 and 3 of Macbeth, and how do these scenes relate to the play as a whole. In this essay I will be looking at two scenes from the play Macbeth, the two scenes act one scene one and act one scene three both include the three witches. In the first scene the witches talk about Macbeth and in scene three they meet him, this links Macbeth with the witches and gives the plays audience the impression that Macbeth must be evil. The two scenes I am looking at are very dramatic and the audience find them appealing because of their beliefs in witches and the supernatural. These beliefs change greatly between the time when the play was written (sometime between 1603 and 1606) and the present day. In Shakespear's time people believed witches were people who had supernatural powers, they were considered evil and servants to Satan. Witches were outcasts of society and were connected with open desolate spaces. Witches were traditionally women and wore black clothes. In the sixteenth century being a witch was a crime and anyone convicted of being a witch was killed. The king at this time was James I and he strongly opposed witches, he wrote a book called "demonology" in 1597. One reason for him disliking witches was the fact that the witches of Berwick brewed up a storm and nearly shipwrecked his boat in an attempt to kill him. ...read more.

Middle

He can report" this line is an iambic pentameter, which is shown by the alternate stretched and un-stretched syllables. I think Shakespeare uses this contrast between the witches and the other characters to show they are very different; that the witches are not "human". In this scene the theme is good and evil this is represented by a line said by all three witches: "Fair is foul and foul is fair". This is a symmetrical palindromic line as the witches say good is bad and bad is good, this line also shows the reversal of morality as it reads the same backwards and forwards. This line is then followed by " Hover through fog and filthy air" which represents the witches' evil and shows that they are polluted and corrupted. The two lines together also use alliteration of the letter "f" a literary device which makes it easy to interchange "fair" and "foul". In scene two the audience find out about Macbeth's good reputation as a soldier. They also find out that King Duncan is going to reward Macbeth with the title "Thane of Cawdor" Scene three opens with the three witches up on the moor. They are talking about a greedy woman who would not give one of the witches some of her chestnuts because of this the witch is angry so she decides to cast a spell on the woman's husband who is at sea. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Lady Macbeth hears the witches prophecies her reaction is that Macbeth should do something about is; he shouldn't wait for fate, he should kill King Duncan. A lot of dramatic action is also bought about by the witches' prophecies such as the murder of King Duncan; because if it wasn't for the prophecies Macbeth would never have had a reason to kill Duncan. Other dramatic action bought about by the witches prophecies is the conflict between Macbeth and Banquo there are a few reasons for this the first is that Macbeth is going to be rewarded for fighting in the war and Banquo isn't, another is that Macbeth will become King and Banquo wont, the last reason for conflict between Banquo and Macbeth is that Banquo's sons are going to be kings and not Macbeth's sons. After the witches' prophecies start to come true Macbeth starts to rely upon them. This eventually leads to the downfall of Macbeth as the prophecies make him too confident and he feels invincible which he turns out not to be as all the prophecies come true. In conclusion I would say that the witches are very important to the unfolding drama of the play because without their prophecies none of the events in the play would have seemed possible and without the witches at the start of the play the theme wouldn't be set. The audience's prime interest is in watching the prophecies as they could come true, including the prophecies of the apparitions, which bring about the downfall of Macbeth. Thomasin McAnulty ...read more.

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