Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth - Role of the Witches

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The Role of the Witches in Macbeth

When Shakespeare wrote his play, Macbeth in 1606 a large majority of people were interested in witchcraft. This is why Shakespeare made the witches and the witches’ prophecies play a major part in the storyline of the play. In the time of Macbeth witches were not thought to be supernatural beings themselves, but supposedly gained their powers by selling their souls to Satan. There can be little doubt that most of Shakespeare’s audience would have believed in witches, and for the purpose of the play, at least, Shakespeare also accepted their reality.

The three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced at the beginning of the play and the brief opening few scenes give an immediate impression
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If Macbeth had listened to his friend Banquo then perhaps the tragic events to follow could have been stopped.

But the witches who could supposedly foretell the future, add temptation, and influence Macbeth. They had told Macbeth that he would be King he became impatient and tried to hurry it as quickly as he could. But they cannot control his destiny. Macbeth creates his own misery when he is driven by his own sense of guilt. This causes him to become insecure as to the reasons for his actions, which in turn causes him to commit more murders. The witches offer great enticement, but it is in the end, each individual’s decision to fall for the temptation, or to be strong enough to resist their captivation. The three Witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas in Macbeth head, but they are not responsible for his actions throughout the play.

Everything that the witches say sounds they are chanting a magic spell. In act 4 scene 1 lines 4-9 :

‘Round about the cauldron go……….charmed pot.’
Here the poet uses rhyming couplets and a different rhythm to the rest of the play. There is a repeated chorus in which they all join in. ’Double, double, toil and trouble: Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble.’

The alliteration with the repeated ‘d’ and ‘b’ sounds make the chant sound very powerful and is very catchy.

Lady Macbeth is shown early in the play as an ambitious woman with a single
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