Show how Shakespere uses the roles of the witches to establish an atmosphere of nightmare and evil in his play, Macbeth Macbeth is one of Shakesperes greatest Tradgedies. The reason why this play is a tradgedy is because the main character (Macbeth) a nice, noble man is destroyed by his own ambition. The play starts as Macbeth being a noble man and the play ends with Macbeth being a wreck an evil man he is described as a “butcher”. The story of Macbeth begins with the three witches who cast a spell. Then it goes to the battle and Macbeth wins. Macbeth meets the three witches. The witches predict that he will be king.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth kill the King Duncan and then Macbeth and Lady Macbeth become king and queen, this is where in the storty Macbeths ambition takes over. Macbeth starts becoming really parinoid and starts hilousinating as he has another person killed. But this time its got a bit of a twist to it because its his best friend that he has killed (Banco). One evil deed leads to another. Macbeth goes and visits the witches again. The witches tell him that he should fear no woman born. This is a twisted lie. Macbeth invades Mcdoffs castle and kills macdoffs family. Mcdoff then goes back and raids Mcbeths castle.
Then Mcdoff tells Macbeth that he was not woman born he was born of a cizarion and then Mcdoff behinds Mabeth. This play is a play full of evil that’s why it begins with witches. Macbeth wanted to set an atmosphere of nightmare and evil. The witches plant a seed in Macbeth that makes him think that he could be king and that makes him think. They would be prepared to do anything for the crown even if it means killing the present king. The Jacobean’s believed that witches were real. The Jacobean’s used to go round killing innocent woman because they belived that they were witches. They used to do tests on the woman.
They do an experiment on them but in the experiment the woman died either way. The woman that got picked on the most where old, poor or unmarried people because they had little money and they had no one to defend them. Witches were a widespread belief during the Jacobean period. If a live stock died or if the crops failed, witches would get the blame. It was believed that witches could kill animals just by pointing at them. They believed that they could appear and disapeear where ever and whenever they wanted to. It was believed that they could fly and see into the future (Thats why Macbeth believed them).
The witches were believed to have familiars (evil spirits in animal form) that carried out there evil plans. Many of the these beliefs are referenced by shakespere during the course of the play. The spectacle of the witches plotting evil at the outset of the play would be sufficient to establish an atmospere of nightmare and evil. The stage directions in this scene start with three witches on the battle field with foul weather- They speak of thunder and lightening, fog and filthy air. This introduces Macbeth ad a dark dangerous play, in which the theme of evil is central.
The battlefield shows it was an empty place where a lot of violence had took place. The number of witches is significant because the number three was thought of as a magical number by the Jacobean’s. The witches meet up to plan evil against Macbeth. They chose the right moment to approch Macbeth- When he was full of triumph of battle, and fresh from killing. The witches use a language called antithesis. “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” These words appear to contradict eachother. It’s confusing and unsettling for the audience. The words introduce the idea of illusion and reality.
But later on in the play we hear Macbeth echo these same words, this is his very first line. The witches words are in his mouth. “When shall we three meet again? ” One witch was enough so three witches meeting up would have a horrible effect on the Jacobean audience. Throughout centeries it was belived three was a magical number. This makes the play more frightening but more realistic. “Hover through the filthy air” Jacobean’s belived that witches could fly so this adds more realism into the play “There we meet with Macbeth” This shows that the witches are the first people to say Macbeths’ name this associates Macbeth with evil.
You can see an immediate connection between Macbeth and the witches. The witches meet Macbethat the right moment, when he is fresh from killing and full of triumph. “Upon the heath” This is a place out of the way where no one would go. No one would disturb them if they were in the middle of casting a spell. “I come Graymalkin” A Graymalkin is a “Familiar” (An evil spirit in animal form) these are used to help the witches carry out there plans or they give signals when the right time is to cast a spell. A familiar is a disgusting creature that we assosiate with the dark e. g A toad or a cat.