Witches Role in Macbeth
Topics: Macbeth / Pages: 7 (2472 words) / Published: Jun 6th, 2009

Most people in Shakespeare time believed in the powers of witches, and witchcraft became the object of morbid and fevered fascination. Between 1560 and 1605 hundreds of people (mainly women) were convicted as witches and executed. Witches were credited with diabolical powers. They could predict the future, bring on night in daytime, cause fogs and tempests and kill animals. They cursed animals with fatal wasting disease and could raise evil spirits by concocting a horrible brew with nauseating ingredients. It was believed witches allowed the devil to suck their blood in return for a familiar (an animal used as an evil servant). Accused witches were examined for the 'devils mark', a red mark on their body from where Satan had sucked their blood. In 1604 an act of parliament decreed anyone found guilty of practicing witchcraft should be executed. If they were convicted they endured torture and death by hanging or burning at the stake.

The first scene of 'Macbeth' is very short, but full of impact. The thunder and lightning alone give it a dramatic opening, which grabs the interest of the audience, as it is representative of evil. These dramatic sound effects help to set the eerie and supernatural atmosphere that Shakespeare wanted to create along with the witches. Instead of seeing Macbeth, Shakespeare's audience is faced with three weird-looking women. The witches introduce us to a dark, dangerous play, in where the theme of evil is central. The witches say little but we learn a lot about them. From the beginning we can tell that the witches can foretell the future, and are creating some unpleasant magic, which is to involve Macbeth. This creates suspense for the audience, wondering what is going to happen next. The fact that the witches want to meet Macbeth should raise some suspicion in the audience. The witches first mention Macbeth in the eighth line, when they explain that they will meet him upon the heath. This shows the audience that the witches must know of



Cited: ooth, Stephen "King Lear," "Macbeth," Indefinition, and Tragedy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), p. 83. Fairchild, A. H. R. "A Note on Macbeth." Philological Quarterly 4 (1925): 348-50. Fawkner, D. H. Deconstructing "Macbeth" (London: Associated University Presses, 1990), p. 123Fergusson, Francis. "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action." English Institute Essays (1951): 31-43. Freer, Coburn. The Poetics of Jacobean Drama. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981. Preminger, Alex, and T. V. F. Brogan, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993. Rauls, Margie. "The Image of Echo and Reverberation in Macbeth." College Language Association Journal 32 (1989): 361-72. Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. David Bevington. 4th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1992.

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