The witches in Macbeth are present in only four scenes in the play, but Macbeths fascination with them motivates much of the plays action. The Three Witches first appear with thunder and lightning and to give us the atmosphere of the play which is the supernatural atmosphere then they agree to meet later with Macbeth .
THE WITCHES’ PROPHECY Macbeth and Banquo returning victorious from a great battle were stopped by three strange figures like women except that they had beards and their lined skins and wild dress made them look not like any earthly creatures. Macbeth first addressed them, but each one laid a finger upon her skinny lips, for silence : and the first of them called Macbeth by the name of lord of Glamis .
The general was much surprised to find himself known by such creatures ; but how much more , when the second of them gave him the name of lord of Cawdor, to which honor he had no claim! . And again the third called to him, “ O king that shall be hereafter!” such a prophecy might well surprised him, for he know that while the king’s sons lived he could not hope to succeed to the throne. Then turning to Banque , they pronounced him , in a sort of riddle , to be lesser than Macbeth and greater ! Not so happy but much happier !
And prophesied that though he should never be king yet his sons after him should be kings in Scotland. They then turned into air and disappeared by which the generals knew them to be witches. But the words of the witches had sunk too deep into the mind of Macbeth. From that time he bent all his thoughts on how to win the throne of Scotland.
The witches do not tell Macbeth directly to kill King Duncan, they use a subtle form of temptation when they tell Macbeth that he is destined to be king. By placing this thought in his mind, they effectively guide him on the path to his own destruction. This follows the pattern of temptation many believed the devil used at the time of Shakespeare. The witches argued, a thought is put in a mans mind, then the person may either indulge in the thought or reject it. Macbeth indulges in it, while Banquo rejects it.
There is no sense of moral right to keep him from murder. He hesitates only because he fears the earthly consequences not because it would be sinful . The witches do not command Macbeth to kill Duncan or anyone else. The murders of the king is his decision. This is the only way that he can see to reach his “Ultimate Goal”. One murder leads to another .
The Witches next appear where they are reprimanded by Hecate for dealing with Macbeth without her participation. Hecate orders the trio to congregate at a forbidding place where Macbeth will seek their art. Then the Witches gather as Hecate ordered and produce a series of ominous visions for Macbeth that herald his downfall .
THE WITCHES’ APPARITION The witches start showing Macbeth three apparition . The first appeared in the likeness of an armed head , and he called Macbeth by name,and told him to be careful of the lord of Fife and Macbeth thanked him for he hated Macduff , the lord of Fife. And the second appeared in the likeness of a bloody child , and he called Macbeth by name and told him to have no fear but laugh at the power of man for non of woman born should have power to hurt him and he advised him to be bloody , bold and brave .
The third appeared in the form of a child crowned with a tree in his hand .He called Macbeth by name and comforted him , saying that he should never be beaten until the wood of Birnam should come against him to Dunsinane Hill . ”Sweet prophecies ! Good!” cried Macbeth then he say I shall live the usual period of man’s life and not be cut off by a bloody death but my heart beats to know one thing if Banqou’s children shall ever rule in this kingdom ?
Here the pot sank into the ground and a noise of music was heard and eight shadows like kings passed by Macbeth and Banquo last smilled upon Macbeth and pointed to them . So Macbeth knew that these were the children of Banquo who should be kings after him in Scotland . The witches with a sound of soft music and with dancing , making a show of respect to Macbeth then disappeared. And from this time the thoughts of Macbeth were all bloody and terrible.
THE THREE WITCHES The three witches add an element of supernatural and prophecy to the play. They each have a familiar and are commanded by Hecate, a Greek goddess of the moon and later witchcraft. The witches are based on a variety of ideas about witches at the time. They can use sieves as boats, and they can assume the shape of an animal, but with a defect, as with the tailless rat. The witches were also thought to be able to control the winds. They are described as having beards but looking human. The "weird sisters” are not very friendly people, who have a habit of telling peoples futures via . They are the fates in Macbeth, know and tell the future, are always right Apparitions.
In the play, the Three Witches represent darkness, chaos, and conflict, while their role is as agents and witnesses. Their presence communicates treason and impending doom. During Shakespeares day, witches were seen as worse than rebels, "the most notorious traitor and rebel that can be”. Macbeth does not have to promise his soul in exchange for any information. His soul was already in trouble before he met the witches. He was their logical choice.
The witches in Macbeth serve to advance the story, reveal human weakness, heighten the tension and give the audience a hint of things to come, but they do not control Macbeth or anyone else in the play. The only power they have over Macbeth is their ability to reinforce an idea that was already in his head. Macbeth is fully capable of doing all the mischief and evil on his own . When the witches hold out their promises to Macbeth the only surety they have is a knowledge of his ambition and his need for power.