To What Extent Do Feel That Roman Polanski's Interpretation Of The Witches Is In Keeping With Shakespeare's Text?

Authors Avatar

To What Extent Do Feel That Roman Polanski’s Interpretation Of The Witches Is In Keeping With Shakespeare’s Text?

William Shakespeare wrote this pre-eminent Jacobean Tragedy for James the 1st around 1603. The play is set in Scotland during the dark ages. Shakespeare set the play in Scotland for the reason that James was Scottish and his ancestors were kings during that time period in Scotland. One of the major themes that can be seen throughout the play is that of witchcraft and evil. This is a primary theme in the play as James the 1st had a great belief in witchcraft and the powers they possessed, he believed witches had conjured up storms and shipwrecked him. To write the play Shakespeare used the Holinsheds chronicles as his main resource. This was a book that contained records from the dark ages of Scotland. In the same way Roman Polanski used Shakespeare’s text as his main resource to create his film. This is evident in Polanksi’s version as he sets the play during the same time period Shakespeare set his Mac Beth.

As soon as we open act 1 scene 1, we immediately see the theme of the subversion of nature and malevolence. The witches enter with thunder and lighting in the background and instantaneously begin talking about unsettling weather and war. Shakespeare uses the weather here to create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. The witches speak in trohain tetrameter, which is a very fast smooth moving metre. This gives the feeling that they have telepathic powers. In Polanski’s version of the play he uses discordant music that’s sounds like howling and lamentings to set the scene of evilness and treachery. He uses a panoramic camera angle that shows us mountains and shows you that the sun is rising. The camera then swoops down like an eagle ready for the slaughter, to the witches were we see that the weather is now dark and tedious. This shows that the witches have influence over forces of nature. We see this also in the text as they talk about what genre of weather they shall meet in next “In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”.

In the stage directions in the text it says that the scene is set at an open place. In the film version we see Polanski setting the scene at a desolate beach with the wind howling in the background. As the witches perform the scene Polanski has them casting a spell using body parts and a hangman’s noose. The noose symbolises a murderer and the witches are using this murderer to entice another murderer Mac Beth into their world of deceit and treachery. Polanski’s interpretation of this scene is very inventive as at the time there was an ongoing war between islanders and the king, naturally this would mean the battles would be fought near the sea. Therefore there would be a lot of death in the area and the witches need body parts from the dead soldiers to perform certain spells.

Join now!

Shakespeare portrays the witches as three different characters, the first which seems to be the most inquisitive as she asks all the questions “When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?”. This tells me that she must not obtain the power to see into the future. The second witch is the most dominant of the group because the others seem to look up to her and ask her where they will be meeting next this proves the 2nd witch must have the power to see into the future. The third witch seems to be and apprentice ...

This is a preview of the whole essay