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What do you consider to be the importance of witches in Macbeth - Coursework Example

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The witches in MacBeth serve a multitude of purposes. One is that there is the possibility that they were not actually living, sentient beings figments of MacBeth’s fertile imagination. This is one of the interpretations that Epstein states is a possibility…
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What do you consider to be the importance of witches in Macbeth

Download file to see previous pages... One of the witches tells MacBeth that he is the “thane of Glamis” (I, i, 45-46). The second witch tells MacBeth that he is the “thane of Cawdor!” (I, i, 49-50). The third witch tells MacBeth that “that shalt be King hereafter!” (I, i, 51-52). Epstein (422) states that, after the final pronouncement by the final witch, MacBeth’s hair stands on end and his heart starts pounding. This shows that this is something that MacBeth has thought about himself – that he could be King, if only Duncan were out of the way. Epstein (422) further notes that the word “wyrd,” which was what the witches were called, as they were referred to as “weird sisters,” (I, i, 31), is actually misinterpreted. The modern plays interpret the word “wyrd” as being the same as “weird” in modern day language. After all, the three women were very weird. When we first meet them, one of them is killing swine, and the other one speaks in rhymes – such as “in a sieve I’ll thither sail, and like a rat without a tail…” (I,i,8-9), and “Here I have a pilot’s thumb, wrackd as homeword he did come. A drum! A drum! MacBeth did come!” (I, i, 29-31). Perhaps in Shakespeare’s day it wasn’t weird to speak in rhymes in the plays, so the audience for Shakespeare might not have thought that this was out of place, but the rhyming definitely made that particular sister seem weird. Therefore, the fact that the sisters are referred to as weird might be a modern-day interpretation of them and their overall characters. But Epstein (422) states that the word that was actually used as “wyrd,” which means fate. This would bring a variety of translations for the witches, assuming that the word is “wyrd” and the meaning is “fate.” This would be a pun, but a very meaningful one. This would be an answer to one of the questions that is central to the play, and that is whether or not our fate is determined by our own hands or by some kind of outside force. The outside force would be the witch’s influence over MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, both of whom are responsible for the bloodbath that is to follow. The implication is that the witches are responsible for MacBeth and Lady MacBeth’s overwhelming ambition that created the situation where there was a string of murders that MacBeth, an inherently good man, commits. If it were not for the outside influence on the proceedings at hand, there is not a way that a man like MacBeth could have done what he did. After all, the word “fate” implies a lack of control – that whatever happens in this world is predestined, and that we are powerless to stop it. Therefore, one of the functions of the witches is both in their persona and in the double entendre on the word “weird,” in that their persona is what ostensibly controls the situation, and the word “weird,” possibly means fate in this context. There is another interpretation of the word “wyrd,” according to Epstein, and this interpretation leads one to the opposite conclusion as the interpretation above. This is that the word might suggest “wayward.” This would imply that the witches were not even real, but, rather, were figments of MacBeth’s imagination. This interpretation would suggest that fate was not in control, at all, but, rather, MacBeth’s deep seated ambition is what is in control. This would imply that what happens to him is a result of his own free will, not the result of the witches influencing the proceedings a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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