Role of the Witches in Macbeth

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Macbeth is a play about morals and how people can be easily influenced. The audience at the time when the play was written were more superstitious than we are. They believed in witches and thought that they were the devils disciples. They were believed to be able to control the weather, blamed many things, such as outbreaks of disease on them.
The first people to meet the Witches are Banquo and Macbeth. They find the witches appearance is vile. We can see this as Banquo says that “(they) look not like the inhabitants of the earth.” This shows us that the witches are obviously strange, and probably misshapen in their appearance. Banquo also says that “(they) should be women, and yet (their) beards forbid me to interpret, that (they) are
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the witches never say anything to Macbeth about murder; it is entirely his own idea. The murder of Banquo is another example. The witches prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo plant the seed of thought in Macbeth’s mind “Thou shalt get (father) kings.” When Macbeth becomes king, he sees this as a threat to his kingship and attempts to murder Banquo’s son, Fleance. Although this fails, Banquo is killed. Macbeth is greatly influenced by the witches at their second meeting, and takes everything that they say literally. Their first warning to Macbeth is that he should be wary of Macduff “beware Macduff.” In response to this, Macbeth ruthlessly murders Macduff’s family. The warning is the seed, but Macbeth thinks the rest for himself. The second warning tells Macbeth that he can be harmed by any man “of woman born.” Macbeth takes this literally and says before the battle “What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not of woman born?” However, we learn later a few scenes later that Macbeth has taken this too literally and that it means natural. We also learn that Macduff was not naturally born and so can harm Macbeth.

So what really is the role of the witches in Macbeth? I think that their role is to give Macbeth a thought that they know he will try and expand on. The perfect example is foretelling his ascension to the throne. They tell him he will become king but they don’t tell him how. He just assumes he has to murder Duncan to become
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