The witches all speak in contradictions, ‘when the battles lost and won’, ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’. The line ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’ is very important. It suggests that things have been turned upside down, and that appearances, whether of good or evil, can’t be trusted. In Act 1 Scene 1 the witches say they will meet Macbeth the next time they will meet. This leaves the audience questioning why the witches target Macbeth.
Macbeth’s fate is that he will win the battle, but will lose the battle for his soul. We have come in at the end of the witches meeting, just as they are arranging their next appointment before their familiar spirits call them into the fog and filthy air. From the beginning we can tell that the witches can foretell the future, and are creating some unpleasant magic, which is to involve Macbeth. This creates suspense for the audience, wandering what is going to happen next. The fact that the witches want to meet Macbeth should raise some suspicion in the audience.
The witches in Macbeth are very important in the plot and develop certain aspects of the play. They make greater the theatrical experience with images of darkness, thunder and lightning that make Macbeth the tragedy it is. Their actions also add to the play, dancing round the cauldron and chanting ‘Double, double…’. Their appearance as ‘dark hags’ adds mystery to the play. The witches also add a sense of evil and of the supernatural.
As opening characters in the story, the witches establish the major theme of the tale and predict future events. Upon hinting of their insight to the end of the war and revealing their relationship with demonic forces, the witches call out, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair,"(I, i, 12). In his first meeting with the Weird Sisters, Banquo questions the witches powers and asks, "If you can look into the seeds of time and say which will grow and which will not? "(I, iii, 65). The witches prophecies linger through the story and reveal their accuracy, and Banquo takes notice and comments to Macbeth, "I dreamt last night of the three Weird Sisters.
Lady Macbeth's character also changes from the loving wife and strong woman to the crazy, paranoid woman. Shakespeare uses witches, apparitions, ghosts, and other unnatural events to show the evil effects and consequences that interference by these forces is anything but good. Macbeth experiences his first strange encounter of the supernatural when he meets the three witches in Act 1, Scene 1. The witches greet Macbeth by saying "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!/ All hail, Macbeth!
The Role of the Witches in Macbeth In the play, Shakespeare used the witches to represent the supernatural, evil, a destructive force and an inversion of natural order. At the time the play was written, people believed this, and feared witches. People believed that witches had the power to change the weather and other special powers such as predicting the future and the power of flight. In Act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare begins the play with the witches discussing when they should next meet. He does this because he wants the audience to be curious about the witches, and what role they play.
Thunder occurs every time when the witches show up. In Act I sence i, it indicates the theme of discorder. When the witches enter, there is stormy weather. The storm attends the three witches when they are gather to express their exploits. They cast a spell that they are going to meet Macbeth.
The ‘thunder and lightning’ is used to represent the witches. We can see the link between the witches and the weather because thunder and lightning is unpredictable like the witches. The use of thunder and lightning is also used to help emphasize the atmosphere of dread in the rest of the play. The tumultuous weather also hints at the evil nature of the witches and of the rest of the play. The witches are the first people the audience see in the play.
This could have been to let the audience, which would have been aware of this technique, that the witches are in fact, or simply appear magical. The stage directions indicate “thunder and lightning,” every time the witches appear, this same stage direction is given throughout the play to set the intended atmosphere, this is pathetic fallacy. The witches discuss the soon to come meeting with Macbeth, “apon the heath” “there to meet Macbeth”(Act1,scene1) Thus showing the witches knew about Macbeth before the meeting and the predictions were intentionally given. As Macbeth returns from a victorious war, he is unaware of the forthcoming encounter with the witches. Before he arrives ‘apon the heath’ the witches show a first glimpse of evil, one tells a tale of a woman whose husband she will curse.
Shakespeare has chosen to open the play with the witches on a moor in thunder and lightening. He has done this to grip his audience from the beginning and use the witches to play on their fears and emotions. People at the time believed that witches had the ability to predict the future, fly, create storms, fog and mist, shorten the hours of day, appear and disappear, posses people or cause them to be possessed by the devil and put curses on people which could make them ill and kill them. Almost all of these powers were used by the witches in the play. For example in the opening scene when the witches were in thunder and lightening also the storms they caused the night of Duncen's death and how they shortened the hours of day.