The Effect of Evil in Witches and Lady Macbeth on Macbeth
'Macbeth' was written by William Shakespeare in 1606 when a large
majority of people were interested in witches and witchcraft. So that
is why Shakespeare has made the witches and witches' prophecies plat
an essential role in the storyline of the play, 'Macbeth.'
At that time witches were not thought to be supernatural beings, but
supposedly gained their powers by selling their souls to the Satan,
and were then instructed and controlled by "familiar spirits." The
English law recognises the practice of witchcraft among some people in
1604 and made a rule so that any one who practice witchcraft, help
those who practice witchcraft or do any thing seriously unusual from
the others can be penalised to death. But it was by no means
unquestioned. There can be no doubt that most of the Shakespeare's
audience would have believed in witches, and for the intention of the
play, at least, Shakespeare also accepted their views.
The three witches in 'Macbeth' are introduced right at the first scene
of the first act and the brief opening scene give a sudden sense of
horror, ambiguity and mystery. The writer uses this as a sign of
things to come later, for witchcraft is one of the major themes of the
play. The witches create an atmosphere of disorder, destruction and
The weather in the opening scene is thunder and lightening which is a
reflection of the way the witches are perceived. When one thinks of
thunder and lightening he thinks of evil and destruction and this is
exactly how the witches are portrayed in the play. They are evil and
cause destruction in Macbeth's life.
The witches and their prophecies are the first major influence in
Macbeth's evil actions. Macbeth, the thane of Glamis, a noble man of
Scotland, a general in the Scotland King's army and a great warrior is
self-satisfied with his position, until the three witches tell him in
the third scene of the first act,
"All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.
All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter."
Just after hearing this, Macbeth and Banquo, his noble friend and a
general in the King's army receive a message from Ross that Macbeth
has been awarded the title of "Thane of Cawdor" from the king for his
bravery in repelling the rebellion. Then Macbeth is conveyed to think
about the ideas of "the greatest." The witches had also told them that
Banquo would be the father to a line of kings. So they contemplate
about how the rest of the prophecy will come true.
Banquo says in the 124th line (third scene in the first act),
"The instruments of darkness tells...