Line and character analysis of Macbeth (witches - "fair is foul and foul is fair")

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A powerful sense of evil hangs over every scene of the play. To introduce this theme, the most dangerous characters who are both tremendously powerful, and utterly wicked are used. The witches, also referred to as the ‘weird sisters’ recite the words “Fair is foul, and Foul is fair” in Act 1 Scene 1. This line is a paradox. It is also a prophecy, where one thing seems like another. It is the theme of deception, and it is evident throughout the play.


This line is crucial to the play. It sets up the mood and tone. By being said by the witches it brings with it the theme of evil and a foreboding nature. This line also represents that nothing is, as it seems � a recurring concept throughout the play.


It is through the witches that we first hear of Macbeth, as they exclaim that they are going to meet with him. This automatically links Macbeth with evil, and sets the pattern of things to happen.


Witches embody an unreasoning, and instinctive evil, and are described by using descriptive imagery of a “…wither’d…and wild attire” with unlady like characteristics such as beards. This description by Banquo personifies evil, and gives it unattractive characteristics, while describing the witches.


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The witches speak in rhyme, which separates them from the plain speech of the other characters. The rhyming makes them sound as if they are constantly making spells and chants. The words are said to a beat and rhythm scheme, with descriptive, and emotive words to suggest that more evil is to be uncovered. When the witches are involved in a scene, the tone automatically becomes dreary, and frightening, heightening the tension of the moment.


Witches are also known to cause mischief, which stems from their supernatural powers. With their insight into the future these three “black and midnight hags” plot mischief against Macbeth. By using charms, spells, and prophecies, they prompt Macbeth to murder Duncun, order the deaths of Banquo and his son, and allow Macbeth to believe in his own immortality.


The witches also understand that mortals have weaknesses and flaws of character, and so they play and toy with mortal’s minds. It is on a heath where they meet with Macbeth, and put their plan into action. They tell Macbeth that he is to become Thane of Cawdor, and then to become king of Scotland. The witches play on Macbeths one flaw, his ambition. They tell him prophecies and half-truths, of the future, playing Macbeth along like a puppeteer.


Evil further links itself to Macbeth, by adding Hecate. Hecate is the leader of the witches. In her speech she exclaims that she is angry at the fact that the three witches did not consult or include her in such an important affair. By Hecate being involved it heightens the severity of the matter.


The ‘weird sisters’ lurk like dark thoughts and unconscious temptations of evil. They are crucial to the plot and themes of the play. This play is a tragedy, and for a tragedy you must have a man of noble birth, with boundless qualities, but with one flaw. This noble man must fall from nobility due to his flaw


It is the witches, which make this happen. They attack Macbeth’s ambitious flaw, and manipulate him into killing Duncun, and destroying the natural order of things. It is very doubtful that Macbeth would have murdered his king without the push given by the witches meddling predictions.


But why did the witches do it? They gained nothing from this whole event. The answer is simple They did it because they could, as said before they are mischievous characters who clearly took a perverse delight in using their knowledge of the future to toy and destroy Macbeth and many other people.





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