Essay about Witchcraft, Murder and Ghosts in Macbeth

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Witchcraft, Murder and Ghosts in Macbeth

A notable point within Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is the use of the three witches in the opening scene. The number of witches for a contemporary audience can go unnoticed. However in the time that Shakespeare the symbolic meaning of the number three was important, as it symbolized unluckiness and when remembering the fear of the unnatural and being unlucky (epitomized by such historical events as the rage of witch trials within Britain). This is not the only symbolism within the play, the use of the disparity between light and dark is an important concept. We can perhaps see the parallel between the horror movies of today, and the images of witchcraft, murder and ghosts of the past.
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The number three also came up in other contexts.

Porter: "... drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things." (II,iii,23)

On the surface, the porter's statement may seem like nonsense from a drunken fool, giving the play a brief break from the dark nature of the act, but one can read into the statement further. In this scene, Shakespeare is taking pains to remind us through his combination of the number three and drinking that drunkenness plays a major role in the events of the act that unfold. For example,

Lady Macbeth: "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold,

What hath quench'd them hath given me fire." (II,ii,1-2)

As aforementioned the symbolism in the play includes that of both light and darkness. Macbeth's insomnia resulting from the pressing guilt and Lady Macbeth's nocturnal excursions while asleep are examples. Macbeth was unable to hide in the dark from the horrors of his deeds and he was haunted by the fear of discovery. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, was afraid of the dark and was using the light in an attempt to dispel her demons.

Doctor: "How came she by that light?"

Gentlewoman: "Why, it stood by her: she has light by her continually; 'tis her command." (V,i,24-25)

Furthermore Shakespeare uses sunlight and darkness in contrast to intensify our understanding of his guilt.

Old Man: "Threescore and ten I can remember well;
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