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Macbeth and the Witches by Matt Roberts Essay

In the time when Shakespeare wrote his novels people truly believed that Witches existed and that they could actually decide what people were doing. If somebody suspected a woman of being a witch, they could get her drowned without so much as even a trial. The fact that people actually believed in witches when the play was written made everybody who saw the play very wary at what so called witches could actually do.

My essay is about the way the three witches affected Macbeth. I think that they were the major factor in the downfall of Macbeth. The three Witches started off their sickening and ruthless campaign to get to where he felt he should be. He only started thinking that being the King of Scotland was his rightful position when the witches first spoke to him on the hill that day. When he first arrived everything seemed normal and he was greated by his usual title, Macbeth Thane of Glamis. But after they said this they said the first shocking thing. They also greeted him as:

“Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.”

This was shocking to Macbeth because at this time he did not realise that he was to become Thane of Cawdor. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here because the audience already know that King Duncan has already said that Macbeth is to become Thane of Cawdor. Then the Witches say the most shocking thing of all:

“thou shall be King here after” In saying this the Witches planted the seeds of an idea which would effect the way Macbeth acted in the rest of his life. The importance of what the Witches said that day was not realised until Macbeth found out that the Witches were right about him becoming Thane of Cawdor.

The Witches do not just affect Macbeth though. They affect the person who is closest to him. That is Lady Macbeth. They do this in subtle ways that may not be perceived by all members of the audience that read the book and some people still do not believe that the Witches had any affect on the way Lady Macbeth acted and she was evil anyway. But I do believe that the Witches acted upon her. This is because she says and does a number of things that may show she was being acted upon by the witches. An example of this is she asks for the,

“Aids of the spirits of darkeness” to act with her in her quest, to eventually be Queen with Macbeth as King. She also asks the spirits to fill her sole and body with,

“Direst cruelty.” Saying things of this evil, I feel show, that this Lady was ever not thinking or was being acted upon by a force she could not control, the Witches. We know the Witches were a force normal people could not have power over because they could stop people from sleeping. They eventually did this to Macbeth.

When Macbeth was ever in doubt about doing something the Witches or Lady Macbeth always spurred him on or gave him no choice but to do it. Macbeth was affected very greatly by these two outside powers. They both filled Macbeth’s head with ideas that he would never of thought of without them. They each told him things which made him feel good about himself. Lady Macbeth called him,

“Great Macbeth.”

Saying something like this to a man with elements of doubt in there mind would full them with great confidence and make them believe they could do things that usually they would think were never possible. She also scorned him so that he thought that he wasn’t sgoodenough to do what she wanted and this made him fell less of a man. The Witches though, eventually are the deciding factor in Macbeth killing Duncan. They make Macbeth believe that he can see a dagger in front of his eyes. Macbeth truly believes he is seeing a dagger lead him to Duncan’s room. It draws him closer and closer until he believes he can do it and takes a dagger from Lady Macbeth and stabs Duncan.

He is now king but the Witches decide they are going to make Macbeth’s life twice as bad as he thought it would ever get. They play tricks with his mind making him paranoid. An example of this is when they start making him think that Banquo’s children may be the next heir to the throne. He says,

“Banquo, I do fear.”

After he says this he decides to kill Banquo and Banquo’s son, Fleance. But when he sends the murders he hires to kill them another person turns up. This other person is one of the Witches. The Witch makes sure that the son Fleance gets away. In letting Fleance get away, it will always keep the element of doubt in the mind of Macbeth that he could always come back to haunt him one day.

By far the most extraordinary thing the Witches did create the surreal apparitions that Macbeth saw and that the Witches created for him to see. They were all different things but the one, which I think got to Macbeth, was the Heir apparent of Banquo’s son Fleance. It showed him and the rest of his family in a mirror one after the other with crowns on their heads. Thus worries Macbeth as he can see no end to the people who can become King. This makes him believe that no matter who he kills there will be somebody else to come and take over. They also trick him saying that “nobody can kill him of women born”. Finally, this gives Macbeth the confidence, which really he should not have had. This was a clever move by the Witches as they knew Macduff was born by caesarean. This meant they tricked Macbeth.

All the above things I think clearly show that the witches had the biggest effect on Macbeth’s downfall. They did so many things to him, which in the end broke him down like nobody else they could do. His wife aided him with the murder of Duncan but she in the end did not know what he was going to do next. However, the witches always did. All of these factors eventually show that the witches were by far the most important factors in Macbeth’s downfall as they really plotted what he was going to do next.

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