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The Macbeth Witches

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:07 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 80.1 
  • Words: 866
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In the first scene in act one we can see that the witches have some kind of psychic ability from when they predict that Macbeth will win the battle.   The witches appear to be having some sport of shared vision.   We can tell this from the second quotation- “When the hurlyburly’s done.   When the battle’s lost and won.”   The witches clearly know that King Duncan’s side will win the battle.   They also know when they will meet with Macbeth- “There to meet with Macbeth.”   This addresses the theme of witchcraft and is Shakespeare’s way of letting the audience know that the witches have powers.

The scene is set in the dark on the heath- a very open place, and the thunder and lightning in the background ‘top it off’ as such.   These key elements are Shakespeare’s way of conveying evil.   In Elizabethan times this worked well on the audience who were convinced (perhaps unlike a modern audience) that these three women were witches from the very first line.

Just before the end of the scene we see that the witches have familiars when the first and third witches call on them.   This is also a key element in convincing the audience that the women are witches.   The fact that they have familiars makes them seem evil and though perhaps a cliché now would have been very real for an Elizabethan audience.

At the very end of the scene the witches do a sort of chant.   “Fair is foul and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.”   This implies some sort of evil spell and leaves the audience in suspense until the next time we meet the witches.

The way the witches behave here make us feel disturbed or uncomfortable although there are no descriptions of appearances as yet.

At the opening of scene three again we hear thunder, not only does this create the spooky atmosphere as before, but it also confirms the witches’ predictions about the weather and makes the audience think that they have some sort of power over the...


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