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What is the role of the witches in "Macbeth"? Are they the most powerful element of the play?

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Introduction

What is the role of the witches in "Macbeth"? Are they the most powerful element of the play? In my opinion, Macbeth is a tragic hero. I see a tragic hero as a character who is admired and loved and followed throughout the play, and is bought down by a flaw in their character followed by fate. Macbeth is a brave hero, highly ranked by his own family and society, as well as the country. I see the reason for this, however, as the following: He is a brute. He is a violent, blood-loving butcher, and these are the activities, which got him to the status at which he is, a general in the king's army, and Thane of Glamis. The witches would be seen as a supernatural presence in the play to the Shakespearian audience, whereas the modern audience would see logical explanations to all that happens. Macbeth has a violent character, and these witches could just be mad women who provoke his "dark side". However, the witches are presented in the play as women with supernatural powers who make the day turn to night (which can be explained simply by a solar eclipse) ...read more.

Middle

�"Dwindle, peak and pine...bark cannot be lost yet it shall be tempest tost" -the witch will make him thin, weak and frail and play a storm around his ship. When describing what they had done to the sailor's wife in Act 1 Scene 3, it is obvious that they had no respect or sympathy towards ordinary human beings: "Give me". Rather than asking the sailors wife to give her a chestnut, the witch ordered her to. "Rump-fed ronyon" -this is an amusing quote but again shows the lack of respect the witches have for ordinary people. However, when they meet Macbeth and Banquo they use respectful terms; this may be mockery or an attempt to gain their trust so as to play on their minds. "All hail..." this phrase is used repeatedly, I believe it is to flatter Macbeth and to make him believe what they predict. The audience would be surprised and would have more reasons to believe in the witches as the predictions are revealed. The first prediction is "hail Macbeth, Thane of Cowdor". This would be a surprise as no one knows of the death of the Thane of Cowdor but the King and his court, and Macbeth believes that he still lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

The witches show indications throughout the play of there affect on Macbeth. For example his trace-like state, "look how our partners rapt" (act1 scene 3). Also Macbeth's changed appearance " why do u make such faces" (act1 scene 4), this maybe through the witches influence or his own guilty conscience. Macbeth also has an inability to pray, " Amen/ stuck in my throat..." This could e the witches and their evil ways distancing Macbeth from god, or Macbeth's own conscience punishing him for his own evil thoughts and doings. Hallucinations and visions "what is this I see, a dagger before me?" there are numerous reasons for hallucinations, but because the Elizabethan audience would not have thought of any of these, only that the witches were responsible. There are other examples also, that the Elizabethan audience would consider the witches responsible for, like Macbeth's lack of fear, disturbed behaviour, indifference to life and also invitation to evil spirits. When focusing mainly on the supernatural details of the play, the witches seemed to me as the most powerful element of the play, otherwise, Macbeth seemed like a power-hungry mad murderer, but again, this is only my opinion. The Elizabethan audience would almost definitely consider the witches to be the most powerful element into the play. Alyna Zain Joosab GCSE English 8111 Shakespeare - 1 - ...read more.

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