The Significance of Act 1 Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth
The story of ‘Macbeth’ opens in ancient Scotland during a time of war
between Scotland and Norway. In thunder and lightening, not far from
the place of battle, three witches meet on a lonely heath. They are
very important in the plot and develop certain aspects of the play.
They make greater theatrical experience with images of darkness,
thunder and lightning that make Macbeth the tragedy it is. I believe
that even though the witches appear in the play only a few times, they
play a very important role in Macbeth. They have a great deal of
influence not just on the major characters, but also on some minor
characters. I feel that the witches contribute a great deal to the
overall atmosphere of the play dramatically. It is at the beginning of
the play that we are introduced to the evil sisters, when they meet in
an open place in "thunder and lightning". Right from the beginning,
the witches create a mysterious atmosphere. In the first scene we meet
three witches who make certain prophecies relating to Macbeth on which
the entire action of the play hinges. Apart from their role in the
action of the play, these supernatural characters impart an eerie
character to the play and hence its horror. In philosophical and moral
terms this play may be described as a study of evil.
In fact the play has been called Shakespeare’s most profound and
mature vision of evil. The play centres on a struggle between an
individual and between the forces of evil on the world. Evil has in it
the seeds of self-destruction: this is what the play demonstrates.
Terror is one of the dominant feelings produced by all tragedies, but
in this play an atmosphere of terror pervades the whole play. Terror
is produced also by the imagery, by the use of dramatic irony and by
the diabolic deeds and agonising experiences of the two main
protagonists in the play. The ‘weird sisters’ portray the theme of
deception in a different way. While not actually lying they are never
telling the whole truth. They play with Macbeth right from the start
‘Fair is foul and foul is fair’ (Act 1 scene line 11). The witches
deceive not by lying, rather by omitting to tell the full truth.
‘Palter with us in a double sense’ (Act 5 Scene 7 Line 49). The play
of Macbeth is based upon the theme of deceit. It clearly shows no
matter how devious a person can be, deceit will return to punish the
deceiver. Apart from all this the witches hint at the conflict to come
and this conflict takes various forms some hidden some obvious.
Literature reflects the spirit of the age in which it is written. A
writer, who is a product of his age, is influenced by the period in
which he lives and his writings clearly show these tendencies.
Witchcraft had deep roots in the soil of the brain of the...