Essay on Shakespeare's Presentation of the Witches in Macbeth

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Shakespeare's Presentation of the Witches in Macbeth

The witches are a physical embodiment of evil in the play Macbeth. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, they represent temptation. The world of the witches is terrifying and their language full of spitefulness, violent and grisly references to mutilation. Banquo senses that they are evil and he is very mistrustful of them. Macbeth is tempted by their predictions, because they perhaps echo his own thoughts. The witches never tell lies but, because they speak in puzzling riddles, it is possible for Macbeth to hear only what he wants to hear. By the time Macbeth realises that he has made the mistake in trusting them it is too late.

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Nature is turned upside down after king Duncan’s murder, when hawks are killed by their prey and Duncan’s horses eat each other. Blood often seems to run through the story. Thunder, lightning, storms and shipwrecks are connected to the witches and the influence of evil in the world. Howling and shrieking seem to follow Macbeth. He is forever in a hurry, spurred on by his ambition. He cannot stand uncertainty, waiting or inaction, and has little patience. The theme of chaos is related in this way to that of time.

By starting the play with the witches and with thunder and lightning, Shakespeare leaves you with no doubt that the play is going to be about the struggle of good and evil; light and the darkness.

It is also clear who is to be the target for the forces of evil; the witches make an appointment to meet again tom lure Macbeth to destruction. Shakespeare instantly creates a mood of terror and unearthly evil: the first stage direction, ‘Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches’.

When the witches chant ‘Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair:/Hover through the fog and filthy air’ you can guess that it is going to be hard in the play to tell the difference between good and evil. The way things appear may not be the way they really are. Things that look good may turn out to be evil, evil things may seem to be good; just like some

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