Essay on The Witches Play the Greatest Part in Macbeth’s Downfall

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The witches are the first characters we see in the play in Act one Scene one- A prologue of evil. They plan to meet Macbeth when the fighting has finished. “When the hurly Burley’s done”
From the very beginning of the play the witches are planning to give Macbeth the news of his future and so lead to his downfall. They speak to each other about their next action, to meet with Macbeth. The setting in which Shakespeare first presents the witches is On the Moor with thunder and lightening in the background. It is unusual the way the three witches meet in a storm. This atmosphere implies that the witches are frightening and its very location ‘On the Moor’ a remote and isolated waste land area, gives a scary feeling.

The witches talk to
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They plant ideas in his head, or perhaps draw out ideas which were in his head already.

First witch,
“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!”
Second witch,
“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!”
Third witch,
“All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter.”

The words “that shalt be King hereafter,” I think have a very important part in the downfall of Macbeth. These five words have placed an idea in Macbeth’s mind, or else brought to fruition an idea which was hidden in there already. From this point onwards Macbeth’s ambition is to become King at any cost.

They greet him as Thane of Glamis (which he already is,) Thane of Cawdor (which he doesn’t yet know about,) and ‘King’ hereafter. Banquo asks Macbeth why he starts and seems to fear (obviously Macbeth has guilty thoughts and the prophecies prick his conscience.)

Banquo asked if the witches were imaginary or as real as they seem to be. He says that they greeted his friend (Macbeth) with his present titles, with prophecy of future nobility and with promise of royalty. He seems amazed. In contrast Macbeth is stunned to silence by their prophecies, while Banquo questions them calmly, showing that the witches don’t have the same affect on him.

Macbeth is fascinated by what he has heard and wants to hear more.
“Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.”
He says, by his fathers he knows

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