Q:

What do the witches in "Macbeth" represent?

A:

Quick Answer

The three witches in "Macbeth" represent evil and darkness. The witches demonstrate the external evil forces working against Macbeth specifically, but that allegorically may influence any person. They are also a metaphorical reflection of the darkness within Macbeth himself.

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Full Answer

In "Macbeth," Shakespeare uses the three witches, sometimes called the Weird Sisters, to explore the philosophical question of predestination. Their ability to predict the future accurately raises questions about whether the events of Macbeth's life are predetermined or he is the master of his own fate. If the events of Macbeth's life are already written, the witches are simply informing him of his future. If Macbeth can choose his own destiny, the witches are manipulating Macbeth into a self-fulfilling prophesy. Shakespeare ultimately leaves the audience to form their own conclusion. One prediction, that Macbeth's companion Banquo’s children are to one day become kings, is unfulfilled at the end of the play.

In "Macbeth," the hatred that the three witches have toward humanity is underscored by the darkness and rain that accompanies their appearance. The line "Double, double toil and trouble" speaks of their wish to increase the trials and hardships of the human race. Shakespeare further separates the witches from humanity by diverging from the blank verse used in the rest of "Macbeth" to rhyming couplets used in the witch's speech.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some examples of foreshadowing in "Macbeth"?

    A:

    Foreshadowing appears in most scenes in Shakepeare's "Macbeth," including the very first scene with the three witches, which foreshadows the violent, unnatural events in the play with the phrase, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." In Act I, Scene 2, when Duncan awards Macbeth the title Thane of Cawdor, which has been taken from a traitor, the origin of the title foreshadows Macbeth's eventual betrayal of the king.

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  • Q:

    When was "Macbeth" written?

    A:

    William Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth" in England in 1606. The tragedy was first published in 1636, and it was set in the 11th century in the Middle Ages.

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  • Q:

    Who is Ross from "Macbeth"?

    A:

    In the play "MacBeth," Ross is a Scottish Thane who turns against Macbeth to side with the English forces. He is a cousin to Macbeth.

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  • Q:

    How does Lady Macbeth explain Macbeth's behavior?

    A:

    Lady Macbeth accounts for Macbeth's behavior in William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," by saying that he has had this kind of behavior since he was child, and even has seizures during these moments. She essentially tries to explain his behavior away as a mental illness. This occurs during Act 3, Scene 4, when they attend a feast and Macbeth alone sees the ghost of Banquo.

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