Macbeth is about three witches who tell Macbeth he will become Thane of Cawdor and king of Scotland. Macbeth then kills the king and alters the natural order. Chaos then follows with macduff killing Macbeth. In 1606 when Macbeth was first performed king James l had succeeded Queen Elizabeth l on the English throne in 1603. He was a member of the Stuart dynasty and already king of Scotland.
King James was as fascinated by witchcraft. It is believed that in 1590 a group of witches tried to kill him. Their plot was discovered and they were brought to trial. King James personally tortured one of the witches, Dr Fian. It was said that king James pulled off all of his finger nails and crushed his legs
Fired by his experience in North Berwich, King James personally investigated other witchcraft cases. In 1597 he published demonology’ a book on witchcraft. When he became king of England in 1603 he ordered its immediate printing in London.Order now
According to Elizabethans there was a natural order in the universe, with God at the top and the king below him on earth. In this universe had a set place. God or the king could raise or lower individuals but any attempt on the individual’s part to change this natural order would result in chaos. So we see in Macbeth great emphasis on the idea of order and formality; Duncan’s reign is seen to be ordered and balanced were he is seen to be responsible for promoting individuals-as he dose with macbeth making him the thane of cawdaw. Once this order has been broken as it is by Macbeth when he kills the king, chaos follows. Shakespeare’s play shoes the fear, sickness and darkness that results in the country when the natural order has been broken down.
Over the centuries peoples views have changed about witches in the 17th century people believed that witches were in league with the devil this was due to the strong Christianity that there was at this time. Witches were believed in all over Europe before the rise of Christianity. It was believed that witches had magical powers so any strange phenomena were explained by witchcraft. It was believed witch’s could control the weather and see into the future. Shakespeare included witches in his play to please king James and also lots off people were interested in witches at that time. Shakespeare also included Macbeth in his play to please king James, as he was believed to be distantly related to the real Macbeth who was a completely different king of Scotland.
Shakespeare brings the super natural into Macbeth very early on with the three witches. Act 1 scene 3 starts with the first witch saying, “where has thou been, sister?” and the second witch replies “killing swine” which means killing pigs. There is also a scary atsmophere to the play. Act 1 scene 3 act 4 scene 1 both start with the witches entering when it is thundering this is to create a spooky atmosphere. Macbeth says “so foul and fair a day”
In Act 1 scene 3the witches are talking about making a horrible storm to trap a sailors wife at sea. There is a ship limp’s back to England in 1606 after been trapped at sea for 567 after been in a horrible storm.
Then later on in Act 1 scene 3 when the witches say Macbeth will be thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland and the first prediction comes true as Ross comes to tell him macbeth dose not believe him to start off with. very soon it starts to get Macbeth thinking. When the witches are making these predictions they are on the heath a very remote and decollate place. There is a mist on the heath this adds to the atmosphere giving it a ghost like feeling. The witches are wearing rags that are dirty and gruesome. They also have facial hair and Macbeth is not shore that they are women Macbeth says “what are these so withered and so wild in their attire, that look not like th’inhabitants o’th’earth and yet are on it. They also say Banqo will be lesser than Macbeth and greater. Not so happy, yet happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. As Macbeth is challenging the witch they all of a sudden disappear. After the witches disappear Banquo says, “the earth has bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them. Whither are they vanished?” to Macbeth.
Later on in Macbeth act 4 scene 1 Shakespeare uses rhyme with seriously horrible things been put into the cauldron things like poisoned entrails, Fillet of a fenny snake, eye of newt, toe of frog blind-worm’s sting. The most gruesome of them all is a Finger of birth-strangled babe.
The witches are there to give it a scary atmosphere. If you are scared you get an adrenaline rush and so like it this is what the witches did in Macbeth. Shakespeare wrote this not only for the king but also for acting and people to pay and watch. In the 17th century people were very scared of witches this is the main reason there are witches in Macbeth.