The Role Of The Witches In Macbeth By William Shakespeare

1776 words - 7 pages

The Role of the Witches in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare some time between
1603 and 1606 and is set in Scotland around 1040. The time it was
written coincides with the reign of King James the First of England.
King James showed a great interest in witches and powers of the
supernatural and Macbeth was arguably written to impress the king in
what were violent times. Shakespeare used witches as pivotal
characters to create a catalyst for the action that was included in
the play. Another reason for him to use witches in this way is that it
is an attention grabber and will interest people, at the time Macbeth
was written people believed that witches had many powers, they were
thought to be able to change form into things like cats, owls and
other animals, they were thought to be able to change or influence,
and predict the weather and they were also thought to be able to bring
disease and misery upon people. It was thought that when witches
transformed they became incomplete animals and this is shown when the
first witch says "and like a rat without a tail". The witches are
introduced into the play immediately and this is a good attention
grabber and helps to set the mood of the play.

The powers of the witches are shown straight away, we are told of the
powers of the witches and how they can change the weather and predict
the future. These things aren't actually proven and the witches are
thought of to be equivocators. The witches are made to sound more evil
and witch-like by the fact they speak in a different way to the rest
of the characters in the play, most of the play is written in iambic
pentameter, or blank verse, but the parts for the witches are written
in four beat rhyming couplets, making what they say sound more like
incantations. "I myself have all the other, and the very ports they
blow, all the quarters that they know, I' the shipmans card" is said
by the first witch and as well as being in rhyming couplets, this also
demonstrates how witches were thought to be able to influence the
weather as she is saying she controls the other winds and know which
points they blow on from every point on the compass. The three witches
sometimes also use riddles like "though shall get kings, though thou
be none. So all hail Macbeth and Banquo." This shows how they could be
equivocators because using a riddle gives the person you're talking to
the right to make up their own mind about what you're trying to say.
The witches like to mislead people and speaking in riddles is the
perfect way to do just that, watching people suffer is what they enjoy
doing and they will do whatever they want or can do to make that
happen, I think that the witches doings are purely mischief as if they
wanted to do something more sinister then they could have,...

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