Act 1 Scene 1 Film Version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Act 1 Scene 1 Film Version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

In Elizabethan England, witches and the supernatural were a very

genuine threat to everyday life. They were recognised as an antithesis

to the divinely ordained order of the universe, often attributed with

unexplained disease to neighbours and to livestock, as quoted in Act

1, Scene 3 when the second witch notifies the others that she has been

'killing swine'. The Elizabethan population did not commonly believe

that witches were born supernatural beings, rather that they gained

their powers by selling their souls to Satan. Indeed, this play was

extremely relevant to modern life around the time of its first

production. James I was personally terrified yet fascinated by witches

after an attempt on his life by Agnes Sampson, a convicted witch. This

led to the practice of witchcraft becoming punishable by death. A

theme of such forbidden ideas, shrouded in the mystery of the

supernatural would surely have horrified those watching the play yet

left them intrigued.

The witches embody a malign and demonic intelligence. They utilise

this to guide the main themes and characters within the play, notably

by their reversal of nature when chanting 'Fair is foul and foul is

fair'. These unnatural deeds are reflected in Shakespeare's depiction

of the witches as 'women with beards'. They are 'withered' in

appearance and symbolise sterility and death by how they look and the

deeds they commit. It can be disputed whether the witches are real,

physical beings or a figment of the imagination. Shakespeare's

audiences would have undoubtedly believed in witches, yet his

portrayal of the hallu...

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...ical this

tragedy is. The small drop of doubt left in the audience's minds as to

whether the witches are real or not enables Shakespeare to combine a

vivid external presentation of the forces of evil with a profound

exploration of their psychological sources and effects in the human


'Hover through the fog and filthy air' is delivered in a slow, ominous

moan. The gypsies are meant to disappear into thin air as directed in

the text, but I feel it is much better to leave it up to the audience

to decide if these women have supernatural powers. In order to allow

this, the oil drum fire sputters wildly and, with another chilling

bell chime, fades out in the torrential rain. The screen then becomes

completely blank, finishing the scene and leaving the audience with

the uncertainty as to what the gypsies truly are.
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