evilmac Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth - The Evil Witches
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Macbeth’s Evil Witches
The witches are seen as being evil. This is because at the time, witches were accepted as being real and evil. Shown in the play because the first scene is thunder and lightning, which is associated with terrible happenings and things so suggests witches are terrible things. They speak in rhymes and use many equivocal terms e.g. ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair’. This suggests reversal and unbalance, which leads to chaos and disorder in Macbeth’s life. This is suggested because they immediately mention Macbeth so he is already associated with the witches and seen as being evil. The chaos is also shown in the natural world by the weather and natural events.
Act 1 Scene 3, there is thunder when the witches meet again. The idea of them being evil is reinforced because in this scene because they are cursing a sailor. This suggests that Macbeth will also face a similar type of treatment. The mystery of the witches is increased in this scene because they know Macbeth is coming when the third witch tells the other two, ‘Macbeth doth come.’ This raises the question of how they knew he was coming and reinforces the link between Macbeth and the witches, which suggests to the audience that Macbeth is evil from the beginning of the play. This link is further reinforced when Macbeth’s first line using the same equivocal as the witches, ‘So foul and fair a day I have not seen’.
Banquo is wary of the witches and does not really want to believe that they really because he says ‘That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ earth’, which adds further to their mystery because they are described as being unnatural. However, the suggestion that Macbeth is somehow acquainted with them is again shown when he talks to them directly without fear and asks 'What are you?’ Nevertheless, this shows to an extent that Macbeth also saw the witches as being unnatural because he enquires about what they are but he does not appear to be afraid.
They then avoid this question and tell Macbeth his prophecies as though this was the purpose all along. Their prophecies give rise to the question whether they knew that he was already Thane of Glamis and the next Thane of Cawdor. This adds to the mystery of the witches and provides some more evidence of the suggestion that they were well acquainted with Macbeth.