Role of Witches in Macbeth

Essay by chompeyHigh School, 10th gradeB, May 2010

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Witches in Macbeth

Natasha John


Ms. Donsky

November 24th 2008


Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is a play in which a once-loyal soldier kills the king, after hearing a prophecy from witches and being heavily influenced by his wife. The witches play an important role in the play. Often debated are their existence and their true role in Macbeth's murder of the king. Did the witches really exist or were they hallucinations by Macbeth? Did Macbeth make the decision to kill Duncan and choose his own fate or were the witches controlling his actions? Due to the ambiguity of the witches in the play these questions are not easily answered. Shakespeare uses the witches in order to set a specific tone and mood for the play as well as to enhance imagery, to propel the play and to show Macbeth changing. Shakespeare also has the witches influence Macbeth's decision; however only leaves some evidence in the text pertaining to how much influence they had.

Shakespeare uses the witches in the first scene of the play in order to grab the audience's attention, to set the mood for the rest of the play and to enhance the imagery in the play. With the opening of the curtains the audience is greeted with an eerie stage. This scene takes place in an open place with the effects of thunder and lightning as the focus. This setting grabs the audience's attention and fascinates them because of dark mood that it creates. Shakespeare maintains this image with the use of the witches and what they say. The existence of witches and witchcraft were popular beliefs at the time that Shakespeare was writing and most people were interested with witchcraft and magic. By using witches in the first scene, Shakespeare was able...