Discuss The Dramatic Role Or Significance Of The Witches In This Play

1160 words - 5 pages

In this play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare the role of the witches and supernatural are central to the play. Although all of supernatural do not have exactly same role in the play, the main purposes of supernatural are to attract the attention from audience, to foreshadow future events, to show the characteristics of individual, and to connect the idea with the themes. Also, this idea of witchcraft and demonology is continued throughout as to emphasis on the antithesis to the divinely ordained order of the universe and helps create dramatic emphasis. As evident from the play, special uses of clothing and weather helps determine the true character of the witches.Shakespeare has chosen to write this play where the topics explored within the play were very relevant to the time in which it was written. Practising witchcraft became an executable offence in 1604 so the witches in the play would have caused quite some controversy. Regicide, the murder of a king or queen, was also an extremely serious crime as the king was believed to have been chosen by God, so to kill the king was to act against God and also nature. The King of England at that time when the play was written, James I, was interested in supernatural. He survived an assassination attempt in his youth. All these aspects of witchcraft in the play would have appealed to King James which implies it could have been written for him.The use of supernatural in Macbeth can be seen as a dramatic device that has a series of effects that impacted the Elizabethan audience and the readers in the twentieth century. The witches have the ability to foreshadow events in the play and in doing so create suspense for the Elizabethan audience of the past. In addition, the supernatural creates for the audience and Macbeth a sense of realization of the role of fate. The use of supernatural activity in Macbeth not only provides suspense to the play but also create impact to the readers' lives.In act 1 scene 1 of the play sets the scene of a very short, mysterious gathering of the three witches. They appear suddenly, in mid-conversation, which is dramatic and creates unclear ideas about the dubious topics of the conversation. This in turn creates an air of tension, suspicion and an ominous atmosphere. The presence of thunder and lightning is a symbol of evil and creates a more hostile atmosphere. This suggests that the rest of the play will be full of deceit, revenge, anger and pain implying the play will be a tragedy. The witches play a major role in convincing Macbeth to kill Duncan. They give Macbeth and Banquo three prophecies: "all hail Macbeth hail to thee, thane of Cawdor", "all hail, Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter" and "thou shalt get kings, though be none." Banquo does not take these prophecies seriously where Macbeth actually shows some ambition for power. "If chance will have me king, why, chance will crown me."At times Macbeth becomes quite dependent to the witches. In act 4 scene 1 Macbeth...

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