The Role of the Witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Essays

The Role of the Witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Essays

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The Role of the Witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

William Shakespeare probably wrote his play, The Tragedy of Macbeth,
for King James I around 1606. To fully appreciate why the witches had
such and important presence and impact upon the characters in the
play, one has to take into account the beliefs and fears that people
living in the early part of the 17th century held.

Today of course, with our scientific knowledge, and so called
'spiritual enlightenment', witches are perceived by the general
population as objects of fun - daft women who practice silly
spells(naked of course!) on hillsides- as we 'know' magic doesn't
exist. But back in the 1600's however, witches were feared and hated.
People really believed that they had supernatural powers that enabled
them to see into the future, and indeed, change it. Beliefs were black
and white in the middle ages. There was a heaven and a hell - God and
Satan existed to people as real entities, and witches were perceived
as evil, subhuman creatures, servants of the devil himself-as
evidenced in Act 1 scene 111, when Macbeth and Banquo first met the
witches.

"What are these, so wither'd, and so wild in their attire,

That look not like th' inhabitants o'th' earth,

And yet are on't? Live you, or are you aught

That man may question?"

Further on in the scène, Shakespeare alludes to the witches
supernatural powers,

"Say from whence you owe this strange intelligence…

With such prophetic greeting"

And;

"Whither are they vanish'd

Into the air, and what seemed corporal melted

As breath into the wind".

Given the historical belief in the powers...


... middle of paper ...


...ret

That you are so."

The actors playing the roles of Macbeth and Banquo delivered their
difficult lines believably, and with passion - enabling the viewer to
'digest' Shakespeare without being distracted. Whilst the musical
score, from the crying gulls, to the discordant bagpipes, added the
necessary tension and drama to the film.

Comparing these two versions of Macbeth is quite difficult. Jack
Gold's production is a play, and the effects of the limited space,
scenery and budget, must be taken into consideration when it's placed
alongside Polanski's film version - to which none of these
restrictions really apply. That said, I personally prefer Polanski's
work. I found the story-line easier to follow and more interesting,
since it was presented in the style my modern, jaded imagination has
come to expect.

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