The Role of the Witches In Macbeth and Their Responsibility for Macbeth's Tragic End

Good Essays
The Role of the Witches In Macbeth and Their Responsibility for Macbeth's Tragic End

The role of the witches in the play Macbeth depends on the nature of

the audience. Initially, the Elizabethan audience consider Macbeth as

a respectable and well-liked character. We do however learn that

appearances can be deceptive which corresponds with the main theme of

the play; "Fair is foul, foul is fair". This theme is first introduced

in Act 1, Scene 1 where the witches foretell the struggle between the

forces of good and evil in which Macbeth is to be involved. It is also

an indication that all will not be as it seem s. This portrays a

character as being much worse if the audience's first impressions of

that character were positive.

We must also take into consideration that during the reign of James I

of England, Shakespeare's audience believed in God and the devil, and

heaven and hell.

They believed in evil spirits, power of possession and in witchcraft

and magic. James I was both interested and terrified of the practice

of witchcraft, which led him in writing the book Daemonologie and also

getting parliament to pass a law promising death to anyone practising

or suspected of practising in witchcraft.

When Christianity was established, the works of the devil became

associated with witches. Therefore it was important to Shakespeare to

introduce the witches at an early stage in the play, as they

immediately contrast Macbeth's character as being a good upstanding

individual to the audience.

The witches are the physical manifestation of evil itself, and they

bring temptation, malice and disaster with their visit upon hapless


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... strength to kill the king. Lady Macbeth completely ignores the first

influence of loyalty to Duncan, her influence is completely self

motivated and originated in her own mind. She takes advantage of

Macbeths's original motivation, his ambition, and uses that to decide

what he must do. Lady Macbeth also appears to be made of a sterner

substance than her husband, or at least is more committed to the deed.

It should be noted that she does not actually have to kill Duncan; so

most of the strength she has to build up goes into convincing Macbeth

that it is a good idea. Her influence on Macbeth in this matter is

obviously great. He's not too fond of the idea, but Lady Macbeth tells

him he must commit murder to fulfill his destiny. And every time he

tries to reconsider, she persuades him yet again to continue with the