Macbeth by William Shakespeare ~ The Witches Quotes

(Stage direction) ~ “Thunder and lightning” The stage direction creates mystery for the audience because it starts off dark and grim and then the Witches appear seemingly out of nowhere. This emphasises how the Witches are supernatural and other worldly. When the play was written and performed, the audience would have believed that witches could control the weather. This would add mystery and excitement because it is not natural and builds upon the audience’s existing superstitions. They wouldn’t have seen witches on the stage so they would be shocked. The use of the pathetic fallacy emphasises how the witches are an evil, supernatural power. The fact that these are the first words of the play and that the witches appear make them seem scary and threatening. This links to how people originally believed that witches could control the weather.
First Witch ~ “Thunder, lightning or in rain” The tripling of ‘thunder, lightning or in rain’ emphasises how the witches can control the weather and also further emphasises the supernatural.
Third Witch ~ “Macbeth” The fact that the witches are the first people to say Macbeth’s name, emphasises how the witches are manipulating him because the audience question if Macbeth is somehow linked to the supernatural and evil.
(All) ~ “Double, double toil and trouble;Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” The fact that the witches all say this line emphasises the supernatural because it seems that the witches are all in sync. It is unnatural to talk in rhymes and riddles and no one naturally talks like this. This further emphasises how the witches are other worldly and evil.
(All) ~ “fair and foul, and foul is fair” The witches also show mystery by the fact they talk in riddles. An example of this is “fair and foul, and foul is fair”. This use of antithesis shows the contrast of different ideas. This also leads to confusion because it leaves the audience asking questions. This also creates foreshadowing because the audience get the feeling that something bad may happen.
(All) ~ “hover through the fog and filthy air” The verb ‘hover’ emphasises the supernatural because to ‘hover’ means to ‘fly’ and this is a very supernatural thing to do.
Macbeth ~ “secret, black, and midnight hags” Macbeth insults the witches and calls them ‘hags’, Macbeth is describing the witches as old and ugly. The adjective ‘secrets’ is associated with being sly, hidden and deceiting. The adjective ‘black’ is associated with evil, impurity and hell. The noun ‘midnight’ is associated with darkness, hiding and the ‘witching-hour’. This emphasises the supernatural and the evil.
Macbeth’s prophesises ~1 – Macbeth:~ “Thane of Cawdor”~ “King thereafter”1 – Banquo:~ “sons will be king”2 – Macbeth:~ “Beware Macbeth”~ “none of woman born”~ “Birnam Wood” goes to “Dunsinaine” The witches appear to see and influence the future. They can influence fate and destiny. This links to the supernatural because no one can tell the future, they can only predict and guess. The fact that the witches sound so certain when telling their prophesises to Macbeth and Banquo and most became true; further emphasises this supernatural power.
Context At the time where the play was written and performed, King James I was king at the time. He was terrified of witches after claiming that one ‘witch’ poisoned his drink. He was so obsessed with witches, that he took time out to write a book called the ‘Demonology’. This book was about witch-hunting and what a person should do if they come across a witch. If a woman was accused of being a witch they would be tortured, tormented and burned at the stake.

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