• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the role and dramatic significance of the witches in Macbeth?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What is the role and dramatic significance of the witches in Macbeth "Macbeth" is one of the four great Shakespeare tragedies, along with "Hamlet", "King Lear", and "Othello". It was written in the early 17th century, which was a time where people believed strongly in witchcraft and the dark arts. The King at the time was King James the 1st of England known also as King James the 4th of Scotland. He believed strongly in witchcraft and considered himself to be an expert on it. He had even written a book on witchcraft and his encounters earlier on in life. The witches were added to the play for James. This is because they would shorten the play by having them there. This is mainly because James used to fall asleep when watching longer plays. The Witches would shorten the play because otherwise the process for Macbeth to become King would take years, mainly because Macbeth would have to wait for Duncan to die. But even if that did happen one of Duncans sons would take the throne instead. Also in the play, the character Banquo is actually a distant relative of James's and somewhat flatters James by changing Banquo to a noble character in the play. The witches in the play are referred to as "The Weird Sisters". But not because they are weird in some way, as if they have moustaches or beards. ...read more.

Middle

He doesn't know if they are living or if they are just creatures that are already dead. He soon realises that they understand him. He seems to enjoy insulting them. The difference between Banquo and Macbeth is that Banquo seems to take the witches more as a joke, but Macbeth seems to be taken in by them and fascinated by them. When they see Macbeth they call him by his present status and his future ranks. Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, King. Macbeth is practically hypnotised at the thought of being King and wants tio hear more from the witches, "Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more"1:3:70. Because he reacts in this way, he feels that he should carry out his tasks to become king of Scotland. Banquo is trying to tell Macbeth that the witches are just speaking nonsense and that he shouldn't get his hopes up. Or that it might never happen and should just forget about it. After Banquo tries to talk to Macbeth, the witches start praising Banquo. They say that his descendants will become King but he won't. This adds to the killing of Banquo by Macbeth later on in the play. This is because Macbeth wants to secure his position on the throne. Macbeth wants to hear more about his fate and future and is engrossed in finding out. ...read more.

Conclusion

In between each apparition Macbeth asks the witches a question and then they will answer. I think that they do this so that the audience will be able to understand the apparitions better. The first apparition is to beware of Macduff. The second apparition is no man born from a woman shall harm Macbeth. And the third apparition is Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him. After the apparitions are told Macbeth becomes relieved and thinks that no-one can take his throne. Macbeth then asks if Banquos issue should ever rule scotland. The witches do actually refuse to show him. This shows that the witches do actually care a bit for Macbeth. But he insists and they show him. Towards the end of the play when the apparitions come true, Macbeth feels as if he has been tricked by the witches and seems to be shocked that these seemingly impossible ideas are happening. "Accursed be that tongue that tells me so." 5:8:17. Just before the witches leave, they do a dance and then they vanish with Hecate. Hecate is the goddess and the queen of the witches. Hecate appears in act three scene five. This scene probably was not written by Shakespeare but added because the audience liked to see the witches. The conclusion to my essay is that, because Macbeth met the witches upon the heath, that event changed the fate for many characters in the play. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Macbeth contrasted to Hamlet.

    whilst Macbeth persists in recurring to the self-concerning:- Your children shall be kings. Ban. You shall be king. Macb. And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so? So surely is the guilt in its germ anterior to the supposed cause, and immediate temptation!

  2. What is the Significance of the Witches in Macbeth?

    Throughout 'Macbeth' the witches play a huge role in twisting the story and its characters - however how significant is this? This is what I am going to find out in my essay. The play begins with a scene featuring the witches - unusual because a lot of plays begin with the protagonist - Macbeth.

  1. Analyse the Macbeth's marriage during the play, and explain why and how it changed

    and titles and that it would not be a good idea to bite the hand that feeds. Macbeth is unsure of what to do and once again decides to leave it up to destiny. However, it seems to me that Macbeth wants to be convinced into committing the murder and later puts up little fight against lady Macbeth.

  2. Examine the role of the witches in Macbeth.

    The number three is a number often believed to be magical, and throughout the play Shakespeare frequently uses this number throughout the play. All three of the sisters have familiars, demons who take the form of creatures to aid witches with their evil craft.

  1. Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth

    The mood is supernatural in the way that the witches are chanting and the thunder and lightning is going on around them. The extremely violent weather may symbolise the extreme power and danger that the witches posses. The witches are out in the open and that is where they plan to meet Macbeth.

  2. Discuss the role of the witches in Macbeth your essay refer to Shakespeare's use ...

    Elizabethan audiences would relate to this portrayal of the witches. The fact that the witches spoke in rhyming couplets seems as if they speak with one voice, an evil supernatural voice. Their style of language also separates them from other characters.

  1. Examine the Dramatic Significance of the Theme 'Fair Is Foul' In Macbeth.

    Ross and Angus soon arrive with the news that Duncan has made Macbeth Thane of Cawdor: "He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor." The first prophecy has come true and therefore Macbeth is no longer just excited by the witches' words, he has proof that the witches can indeed predict the future and begins to believe them.

  2. In this essay I am going to focus on what role the witches have ...

    He was an expert on witchcraft, having written a book on the subject called Demonologie. The book described witches' powers predicting the future, defying normal physical laws, affecting the weather, cursing their enemies, using 'familiar' spirits in the shape of animals, and taking demonic possession of innocent people.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work