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

With close reference to Act 1 scene I and III, and Act 4 scene I, explore both the dramatic and thematic importance of the witches in the play 'Macbeth'.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

MACBETH COURSEWORK ESSAY With close reference to Act 1 scene I and III, and Act 4 scene I, explore both the dramatic and thematic importance of the witches in the play 'Macbeth'. The three witches hold great dramatic and thematic importance within Shakespeare's play, 'Macbeth'. The idea of evil and witchcraft was of great significance to a Jacobean audience. People in that era greatly believed in the ideas of the supernatural and unearthly evil. King James himself was particularly interested in witchcraft and believed in the existence of witches, as would have his populace. However, people of a modern audience nowadays would be sceptical of that idea and do not believe in things such as witches and black magic. Those ideas are at present very diminished, thus they do not have as big an impact on us as they most probably did on a Jacobean audience. The dramatic importance of the witches in the play centres on the way with which Shakespeare stages them. He introduces the witches, who are the first characters the audience see on stage, using the stage directions, "thunder and lightening. Enter three witches". This evokes a sense of evil and the presence of a storm throughout this opening scene creates an atmosphere of tension and suspense. This beginning to the play is powerful and makes and impact on the audience. This is also thematically important, as by starting the play in this fashion, Shakespeare leaves you in no doubt about what it is going be about; which is the struggle between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness. ...read more.

Middle

the effect of this would have been more powerful during the Jacobean times, but wouldn't have much effect on an audience today. The way with which Macbeth begins to ask the witches and gain further prophecies from them shows to us how much he has become dependent on their words and how strongly he has come to credit and trust their prophecies. Him returning to the witches clearly emphasizes the reliance he now has on them. "I conjure you, by that which you profess... answer me to what I ask you." He is begging and appealing to the witches to confess to him further signs and predictions. As the witches begin to show Macbeth the apparitions, again Shakespeare uses the stage direction "thunder" as way to induce a dramatic effect and importance to the witches and their deeds. The witches show Macbeth what he wants to hear. The first apparition, an armed head warning him of Macduff, echoes Macbeth's inner thought about Macduff. Macbeth is wary and vigilant of Macduff, that he keeps a "...servant fee'd." as a spy for him in Macduff's house. Macbeth's thoughts about Macduff come about from Macduff being the first to find King Duncan murdered, him missing Macbeth's coronation as King, and his absence from the Banquet, "How say'st thou that Macduff denies his person/At our great bidding?" Macduff's actions show that he has become suspicious about Macbeth and distrusts him. This in turn makes Macbeth wary of Macduff, and what he might do to uncover the truth about Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

After each line, the witches could pause. This creates suspense and mystery, and makes the audience cling to the words of the witches, eager to know what they shall say next. The third witch can pause slightly longer after she says the line "There to meet with..." This will make the audience alert and greatly anticipate whom the witches shall meet with. This creates tension and drama. The witch could then whisper, "...Macbeth." I think that the witches should stop after the line, "fair is foul, and foul is fair." As the next and last line in the scene is sinister and sounds evil, which the witches are not meant to be in this version of the play. Also, the witches making "fair is foul, and foul is fair" their last line in this scene is dramatically significant, as this is the first thing that Macbeth says when we first meet him in the play. In conclusion, the witches in Macbeth hold significant dramatic and thematic importance within the play. This lies in the way with which Shakespeare introduces them to the audience and presents them as outsiders, in a shroud of evil and malice throughout the play. Also, he establishes his hero in a connection with the witches, and this sustains the suspense and dramatic tension that the witches' generate when they interact with this character, Macbeth. They help Macbeth to reach the top by encouraging his ambitions and weaknesses through their prophecies and apparitions, which were also the means of his downfall in the end. ...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. Discuss the importance of the witches and Supernatural to 'Macbeth'

    When he does come on stage the first words he says are "so foul and fair a day a day I have not seen" this is a very important use of dramatic irony because it is a deliberate echo of the witches' first words of the play.

  2. macbeth- appearance vs reality

    It is easy to see how the character of Macbeth is transformed from trustworthy and good-willed to become disloyal and treacherous. We know he was a trustworthy and honourable man because he helped the King's army in the battle; therefore it was very shocking to find out he committed a murder.

  1. Macbeth - directing Act 4 scene 1. What Kind of Atmosphere do you think ...

    The witches' speech makes the audience intimadated; they speak as if they are one of the same.

  2. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare creates tension and suspense in Act 3 Scene ...

    control, Lady Macbeth can tell that he is no longer in a fit state to be in the company of the guests as he is very unstable.

  1. Act 1 Scene 1 - Witch Dear Diary, ...

    We greeted Macbeth and Banquo out on the moor. They were both extremely bemused by our appearance. Banquo mentioned the fact we had beards and so was confused with the fact we where women. But while Banquo was confused, Macbeth as expected was curious. 'Speak if you can; what are you' he asked.

  2. Macbeth Act 2, Scene 1~2, How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    However, Macbeth has made an enormous error. He has brought the daggers from Duncan's chamber, that according to the plot must lie with the grooms. Lady Macbeth is furious with his mistake, marked by Shakespeare in the rhetorical interrogative, "why...bring these daggers from the place?"

  1. Discuss the importance of the Supernatural in William Shakespeare's

    The witches warn him without him realising, as well as making mischief at the same time- "Speak, demand, we'll answer." They say that they will answer any question he asks, however they are deceiving him, as he then thinks that he can control them easily.

  2. Macbeth Act 1 Scene 1 Analysis

    It shows a clear connection between Macbeth and the witches? evil. The ironic repetition is unconsciously echoed by Macbeth, indicating the changing direction of the battle or the weather, however it could also hint of Macbeth becoming further involved with the witches? evil plot.

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