The Role of the Witches in Act 1
The play Macbeth starts with the meeting of the three witches in a "deserted heath". One reason why Shakespeare starts the play in this way is that in his time people believed in the existence of witches and blamed them for all unnatural events that happened. The people believed that witches had contact with the devil and animals, that they could fly on broomsticks, cast spells by chanting and making potions and that they had the ability to fortell the future.
Shakespeare starts the play with the three witches who meet in a deserted place in Scotland on a stormy night. He starts like this because he wants to scare the audience.The whole atmosphere becomes sinister and strange and gives us an impression of evil things to come at a later stage.The witches conversation is filled with paradoxes; they say that they will meet Macbeth "when the battle's lost and won," when "fair is foul and foul is fair. In this scene we learn that the three witches have supernatural powers. They have the power to predict the future and create mischief. They can then vanish into thin air. By using the rhyming couplets for the witches Shakespeare creates an eerie atmosphere.Each couplet chanted sounds like a spell is being cast on those whom they are going to meet and creates a spooky atmosphere: "When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning or in rain / Fair is four, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air. " (lines one and two and 12 and 13). Meeting in a deserted place in a stormy weather creates the setting for the evil and unnatural events that will follow. The first time Macbeth is mentioned is in Act one by the third witch: "There to meet with Macbeth". The witches know that they will meet Macbeth: "When the hurlyburly's done, When the battle's lost and won" because they prophesized it. Macbeth's name is mentioned because he and the weird sisters have a connection.
The Weird Sisters meet on the heath and wait for...
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