Analysis of the Three Witches in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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Analysis of the Three Witches in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

In this essay, I am going to look at and explore the three witches in

Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I will look at the way they are presented in

each of their four scenes; how audiences might react to them and the

part they play in his downfall. The witches don’t appear much in the

play but bring about the idea of both evil and ambition.

In Act 1 Scene 1 the mood is set. We first hear of the witches and the

play begins with thunder and lightning. The witches are waiting for

Macbeth, which suggests they are there for a purpose. The gives a

creepy feeling and also the evil and supernatural emerge. In

superstitious times it was believed that fierce storms released forces

of evil and were omens of unrest. The witches immediately establish

this and also make it very clear that they are going to meet Macbeth.

However, where they will meet him isn’t made clear. They say that they

will meet him “upon the heath” which sounds strange and deserted. They

use negative language and this is shown when arranging their next

visit; “In thunder, lightning or in rain”. They don’t seem to want to

meet in sunshine and this gives the audience the feeling of evil and


The witches often contradict themselves in this first scene. They say

they will meet Macbeth “ when the battles lost and won”, when “ fair

is foul and foul is fair”. This confirms what the audience had

initially thought – that the witches were a little supernatural and


The scene is short and at first seems a little undeveloped. However,

at a closer look we see that the scene is actually to the point and


... middle of paper ... downfall and is shown early in

the play as a very ambitious woman. She can manipulate Macbeth easily

because he loves her. This is shown in the line “That I may pour my

spirits in thine ear.” (Act 1 Scene 5) Before the speech she gives in

act 1 scene 5, Macbeth decides not to go through with the killing of

the king. However, Lady Macbeth chips away at Macbeth’s self esteem by

playing n his manliness and bravery. He is like a child who is easily

guided and Lady Macbeth knows it. She can convince him to do anything.

On the other hand, as the play develops there is a reversal of order

and Macbeth becomes the dominating partner.

Macbeth himself already harbours the thoughts of kingship and ambition

that in the end leads him to commit murders. He willingly listens to

the witches and takes onboard what they have to say.
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