The Witches in Macbeth

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In Shakespeare's day the practice of witchcraft was seen to threaten the order of religion and society, and was not tolerated. The majority during the seventeenth century believed that witches were powerful figures who had great power over Macbeth. The tragedy depended on whether the witches are supposed to be able to control Macbeth’s actions, or if he is responsible for them on his own.

The witches, or the “weird sisters”, seemed to have brought out the true evil that was in Macbeth, which was not truly brought out of him until the prophecy that Macbeth will be King was made. The witches put the idea in his head and from then on, it is only made worse by Lady Macbeth as she encourages the idea. From the death of Duncan it grows and is only made worse when the witches deliver the prophecies to Macbeth. Mainly the prophecy that states nobody born of women can harm Macbeth. When the witches put that in Macbeth’s mind he became to feel invincible as he plans the murders of Banquo, Fleance, and the Macduff family to secure his throne. Banquo was Macbeth’s best friend but when the witches told him the prophecy, that Banquo’s children were to be king, he showed his true evil side by planning his death.

Throughout the play the witches advance the story, reveal human weaknesses, heighten the tension and hint to the audience what is to come. It is also thought that the witches reinforced the ideas that were already in Macbeth’s head, like doing whatever he can to claim his throne. When the first prophecy the witches made, Thane of Cawdor, comes true Macbeth says to himself “The first step toward the ultimate goal, the throne.” (Act 1, Scene 3) When he calls the throne the ultimate goal it suggests that he has thought of the idea before, and that it wasn’t just the witches that gave him the idea.

And, which is worse, all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you. (Act 3,...
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