Macbeth- The Weyward Sisters
Discuss the nature of the three witches who foretell Macbeth’s future. The Three Witches in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth (1603-1607) add an element of supernatural and prophecy to the play. These three witches represent the personification of evil, conflict and chaos in an already hectic story. The predominant witch, Hecate- the Greek goddess of the moon and later witchcraft- and her two following witches- Graymalkin and Paddock- predict General Macbeth’s rise to the throne. The witches are described as having beards but appearing human. Also known as the ‘weyward sisters’- as quoted in Macbeth- these old, decrepit prophetesses recite “Fair is foul and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air”( 1;1;12-13). This line sets up the play with suspicion and confusion as the line suggests that tables will turn. “Double, double toil and trouble” (4;1;10-11) the three witches chant- making it clear that these witches seek trouble, what is unclear is whether they are changing and controlling fate or if they are merely ensuring its success. What do these prophecies represent, what clues does Shakespeare provide and what conclusion (if any) does he allow his audience to come to? “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor; All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter!” (1;3;11-12) “The power of man; For none of woman born; Shall harm Macbeth” (4;1;88-89) The witches’ prophecies imply Macbeth will reign and that no man of natural birth will cause his downfall. The prophecies foreshadow the development of the plot, they hint to the audience the likely direction of the story and they give legitimacy to the final outcome of the plot. They give righteousness to the outcome; because its destiny. Shakespeare hints throughout the play of the expected downfall of the murderous King Macbeth. The second prophecy “For none of woman born; Shall harm Macbeth” hints that an unnatural birthed man can kill or...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document