The Role of Witches in Macbeth Essay

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The Role of Witches in Macbeth

In ‘Macbeth’ the witches have to be portrayed as evil and fearsome for the play to make sense. This is difficult for a modern director to achieve as out culture and beliefs are extremely different from those at the time at which Macbeth was written.

The intended effect of the witches is to scare the audience into believing them. To strengthen this belief one witch in the play says:

‘Though has bark cannot be lost,

Yet it shall be tempest-toss’d.’

In Shakespeare time people were very conscious about the practice of witchcraft. People believed that witches could manipulate the weather, curse people and control what other people did. Anyone who was
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Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth for King James I. This was to make sure that Shakespeare would have a future of writing plays for the king. He favoured King James belief in the divine right of kings by defeating evil in the play and showing that when the rightful king was killed it was unnatural and made unnatural things happen.

The language used in the play is not as we would speak today. It is a lot more complex.

“if chance will have me king, why chance may crown me

Without my stir”

A modern audience would find it hard to understand and it would break the flow of conversation in the play. The language used in the play is different from the language we would use in everyday conversation. The imagery used by the witches to lure Macbeth into a false sense of security is very effective in creating the sense that they want to destroy all that is good. There is imagery of the number 3 in the play. There are three witches. All the prophecies that the witches give Macbeth are said in-groups of three. ‘All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis.’

‘All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.’

‘All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter.’

The number 3 was considered the number of Satan and everything that was evil. At no

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