The Macbeth Witches - Deepstash

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The Play

Macbeth was first performed on stage in the year 1606. It is a play in which Shakespeare wished to get inside the skin of a murderer showing us the psychological effects of committing such crimes as Macbeth and the other characters (specially Lady Macbeth). However, as interesting as the...

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Supernatural in contemporary England

Witchcraft was a ‘vogue’ issue in the early reign of James I. Even before he

ascended the throne, King James I himself, believed he had been the subject of a plot by three Scottish witches to shipwreck him by stirring up storms. Learned books were also published on the subject such as ...

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Shakespeare's views on witchcraft

We do not know Shakespeare’s personal opinion on witchcraft. But the belief in witchcraft could be used by him for dramatic purposes at a time when almost everybody supposed that witches were,

"channels through which the malignity of evil spirits might be visited upon human beings.”

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Supernatural in Macbeth

The supernatural in Macbeth exists in many forms beside witchcraft such as ghosts and the reversal of natural order. If we remember the start of Act II, Sc i, the old man and Ross talk about the unnatural events that were observed by both of them such as an owl hunting a falcon, Duncan’s...

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What are the witches of Macbeth?

There are three characters in Macbeth that are dubbed as the witches. These characters materialize for the purpose of temptation, their natural existence remaining unearthly. Banquo’s cry,

"The earth hath bubbles as the water has, And these are of them,”

is perhaps best suite...

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The appearance of the weird sisters

Their appearance as described by the dialogue of Banquo is feminine with womanly attire, yet they have beards. This apparent femininity with the interjection of masculinity is again used by Shakespeare in the character of Lady Macbeth (discussed later).

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The powers of the weird sisters

The weird sisters are followers of Hecate, the classical Goddess of the Moon and sorcery. They are shown to partake in dark magic, necromancy, prophecy, and so on. They have the power to control the weather. These witches have a power over a soul that has admitted to have evil in it, such as Macb...

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The role of the witches in Macbeth‘s fall

Opinions vary greatly on the role of the weird sisters in the fall of Macbeth. Some critics believe that these witches were the epitome of evil fully responsible for the fall of Macbeth. Their false prophecy and deceitful flattery is what tempted ambitious Macbeth to walk to his own ruin. Again, ...

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Are they neutral agents of fate?

I believe that the weird sisters are actually neutral. They prophesied that Macbeth would become Thane of Cawdor and finally the King. However, they never incited him to commit the crimes or suggested that he would have to act in any way to gain the throne. Instead, Macbeth comes to this conclusi...

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The opening scene of the play begins with the end of the weird sisters’ meeting in thunder and lightning in a desert place. This sets a very uncanny supernatural stage for the whole play. Their chant,

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair;”

sets the keynote for the whole play. What strikes ...

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Lady Macbeth is complicated

However, it was Lady Macbeth’s tongue that was valorous. She, herself, pretended to be ruthless while she was guilt ridden and plagued by the consequences of the plethora of murders that followed King Duncan’s murder as well as the regicide she was a co-conspirator in. These evil deeds went again...

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The fourth witch

One of the regular critical views on the play mention a fourth witch in the form of Lady Macbeth. Indeed, she is cunning and ruthless while planning for the murder of Duncan. The witches call forth the ambition in Macbeth causing him to wish for power at all costs. But it is Lady Macbeth that cau...

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Bonus: Superstitions about the play

Macbeth is a play steeped in supernatural and uncanny. So, it is perhaps no surprise that superstitions surround the play itself. In the theatre and film industry, it is considered bad luck to mention the name of the play, Macbeth (not the character Macbeth). There have been ins...

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The Conclusion

William Shakespeare was a legendary playwright. He wished to keep the witches as mysterious figures that kick off the play of Macbeth and consequently the downfall of Macbeth. That is why, it’s not surprising that the witches of Macbeth seem mysterious even after four centuries....

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