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What is the role of the witches and what extent are they responsible for Macbeth's tragic end?

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What is the role of the witches and what extent are they responsible for Macbeth's tragic end? The role of the witches in the play Macbeth depends on the nature of the audience. Initially, the Elizabethan audience consider Macbeth as a respectable and well-liked character. We do however learn that appearances can be deceptive which corresponds with the main theme of the play; "Fair is foul, foul is fair". This theme is first introduced in Act 1, Scene 1 where the witches foretell the struggle between the forces of good and evil in which Macbeth is to be involved. It is also an indication that all will not be as it seem s. This portrays a character as being much worse if the audience's first impressions of that character were positive. We must also take into consideration that during the reign of James I of England, Shakespeare's audience believed in God and the devil, and heaven and hell. ...read more.


The significance of the prophecy is that it is brought this desire to the foreground, and made it reality. The witches told Macbeth that he would be king, and he took this statement for granted. For Macbeth, it suddenly changed from whether or not he would be king to how would get to be king. Without the witches to suggest the major course of action, Macbeth would not have been so bold as to pursue his ambition. I feel the witches know that Macbeth will be paranoid and kill those about him. Hecate herself says: "And you all know, security is mortals' chiefest enemy." (3.5.32-33). The witches also come to Macbeth again, speaking of his future and his downfall. Three apparitions appear before him. The first tell him to beware Macduff, who eventually leads the forces to defeat Macbeth. The second tells him "Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." ...read more.


When she hears that Duncan will visit their castle that night, she immediately appeals to the evil spirits, to give her the strength to kill the king. Lady Macbeth completely ignores the first influence of loyalty to Duncan, her influence is completely self motivated and originated in her own mind. She takes advantage of Macbeths's original motivation, his ambition, and uses that to decide what he must do. Lady Macbeth also appears to be made of a sterner substance than her husband, or at least is more committed to the deed. It should be noted that she does not actually have to kill Duncan; so most of the strength she has to build up goes into convincing Macbeth that it is a good idea. Her influence on Macbeth in this matter is obviously great. He's not too fond of the idea, but Lady Macbeth tells him he must commit murder to fulfill his destiny. And every time he tries to reconsider, she persuades him yet again to continue with the act. ...read more.

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