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The Role of the Witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay

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I found responding to the play ‘Macbeth’ difficult because of the era it was written in. Shakespeare wrote the play between 1603-1606 when attitudes were completely different to the attitudes of society today, in particular, widespread belief in witchcraft. In contrast to today, when not many people believe in such things. They used to be feared. They were considered evil, ugly and vindictive. They did not belong to this world, they were ‘supernatural’, with supernatural powers. In the play the witches plant ideas into Macbeth’s head, which affects his inner soul. He changes from an honourable soldier to a vindictive murderer. We are introduced to Macbeth in the beginning when he is returning from the battlefield where he proved himself a brave, fighting leader of men. However, the witches expose his self-doubt which leads to sneaky, underhand murder. Duncan, when talking to a soldier in act 1 refers to Macbeth and Banquo as ‘They smack of honour both’, and later in the same scene refers to Macbeth as ‘noble’. Ironically by the end of the play Macbeth is killed as a traitor.

Macbeth struggles to maintain his nobility and tries to resist the temptation to ‘give in’ to the animalistic urge to kill anyone who gets in the way of a better, more prestigious life… as King. In act 2, scene 1 Macbeth is wrestling with his conscience, speaking aloud he says ‘Is this a dagger I see before me…’, as images of the dagger used to kill the King return to haunt him.

The language used is late-middle English. This is another reason why it is difficult for me to understand, for example ‘this castle hath a pleasant seat’ (act 1, scene 6, line 1). Today, I would say ‘this is a nice gaff’. The following lines ‘the air nimbly and sweetly recomme...


... middle of paper ...


...time table set that will be broken
They sit their futile lesson that will never end

Ink of pen with pencil shaving
Blood of pupils, skin of dog
Smell of boy and spit of girl
Sweat of gym and dank of bog

Stir it well whilst bell doth ring
Add some insults for their sting
Spell so all the teaches can’t
Round about the caldron chant

Relief at end of day poured in
A time for fun and time for sin
Add now both schools mascot’s eyes
Blinded now from students lies

Spell now complete and full of rage
Perhaps for flavor add some sage
Now we are done come fear and wrath
Revenge now gained for all the math.



Witches add darkness, mystery suitable for play about evil add murder. Macbeth commits the ultimate sin the kills the king and thus defines God. Himself the witches have silled his inner ambition but ultimately he deserves to die as a traitor.


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