The Presentation of Witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth
Shakespeare is known all over the world for his advanced techniques in
writing plays and the one I am studying is Macbeth. Macbeth was
written for James the first, and was written because he was interested
in witchcraft. In the 17th century witchcraft was frowned upon to say
the least, and most people who practised witchcraft were burned at the
stake. This was because society couldn't handle witchcraft; they were
frightened of it.
But nowadays people understand witchcraft and don't see it as a
threat; they almost see it as thrilling and interesting.
There have been many different interpretations and productions of the
play and the two I have chosen are the BBCs version and a modern play
by Anne Ross Muir.
The BBC production was an old fashioned version and was set in
medieval Scotland in the 11th century and followed a more traditional
The version directed by Anne Ross Muir followed a modern route in
trying to make the play more understandable. This was achieved by
making the play have modern qualities, which people can relate to
The BBCs was set in Scotland, at the time of war, when the monarchy
was not a stable establishment.
The first scene was set on a heath in the middle of no where which was
smart of the director because it really had an impact on the viewer
because of the darkness and almost mysterious place it was set. This
setting alerts the viewer to the point that they are getting goose
bumps and it is obvious that the director has deliberately chosen this
setting to enhance the quality of the play. But this isn't the major
factor, which affected the play; it was the impact of the weather. The
weather in the introduction was misty and also dirty. The meeting of
the three witches in "thunder, lightening and in rain!" conveyed a
sense of what the play was about and set it off for the rest of the
In considering these several factors, the director has shown the
introduction to have the essence of uncertainty. The viewer is unsure
of what lies in store. When the video starts off with the witches and
the gloomy scenes I felt a surge of fear to see the three witches
arise from the heath, and then the camera slowly zoomed in to where
the witches were lying. The camera slowly moved around the witches
while they were sitting on a "Dolman" (a symbol for the supernatural).
I had noticed that there were three witches, which symbolised the
supernatural (the number 3 was associated with witchcraft). The way
they stood in a triangle also symbolised a unity against normality.
In the BBCs version the witches were from head to toe in rags. Their
hair was looked like it had never been washed, their hands are filthy
and im sure there was fungi growing between their nails. I don't think