Macbeth meets twice with the witches; for the first time in Act 1, Scene 3, and the second in Act 4, Scene 1. In Act 1, Scene 1, the witches confer and decide when . and Banquo arrive. The witches hail Macbeth first as his title Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor and finally king, and prophesy that Banquo's children will become kings. In this scene, we meet Macbeth for the first time. The witches. That you are so. MACBETH, Speak, if you can: what are you? First Witch, All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! Second Witch, All hail, Macbeth, hail.
This conversation, moreover, serves to identify the "weird sisters" of the play with the familiar witches of Elizabethan superstition.
Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 - The Witches meet Macbeth
One of the commonest charges brought against supposed witches in Shakespeare's day was that they maliciously killed by pestilence, or the evil eye, the domestic animals of those they had a grudge against. The witches lay their fingers on their lips to hush Banquo into silence. Their business is not with him, but with Macbeth; and they will not speak to Banquo until they have discharged their errand.
Witches were generally thought of as bearded women. The witches, like ghosts, will not speak until they are spoken to; but as soon as Macbeth questions them, they break out in their triple hail. The title "Thane of Glamis" was hereditary in Macbeth's family. See line  of this scene.
Macbeth starts because the witches' prophecy that he shall be king is an echo of his secret ambition. Indeed it would seem from his wife's words i. The ambiguity of the witches' address to Banquo is in marked contrast to the directness of their speeches to Macbeth. He is to be "lesser than Macbeth" in rank, and "greater," because he will never be the slave of guilt; not so "happy," i.
The prediction that he shall "get," i. According to tradition, the royal house of Stuart sprang from Banquo's son, Fleance. Note the different way in which the sudden vanishing of the witches affects Banquo and Macbeth.
The former is only surprised; the latter regrets that they did not remain to tell him more. Your children, etc, Macbeth cannot free his mind from the predictions of the witches, but he carefully avoids mentioning the most startling of them.
Moreover, they were depicted as more fair than foul both in Holinshed's account and in that of contemporary playgoer Simon Forman.
The prophecies have great impact upon Macbeth. As the audience later learns, he has considered usurping the throne of Scotland.
The Witches next appear in what is generally accepted to be a non-Shakespearean scene,[ citation needed ] 3. Hecate orders the trio to congregate at a forbidding place where Macbeth will seek their art. The meeting ends with a "show" of Banquo and his royal descendants. The Witches then vanish. Analysis[ edit ] The Three Witches represent evil, darkness, chaos, and conflict, while their role is as agents and witnesses. Their presence communicates treason and impending doom. During Shakespeare's day, witches were seen as worse than rebels, "the most notorious traitor and rebel that can be".
Much of the confusion that springs from them comes from their ability to straddle the play's borders between reality and the supernatural. They are so deeply entrenched in both worlds that it is unclear whether they control fate, or whether they are merely its agents. They defy logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world. Indeed, the play is filled with situations in which evil is depicted as good, while good is rendered evil. The line "Double, double toil and trouble," often sensationalised to a point that it loses meaningcommunicates the witches' intent clearly: By placing this thought in his mind, they effectively guide him on the path to his own destruction.
This follows the pattern of temptation attributed to the Devil in the contemporary imagination: Macbeth indulges the temptation, while Banquo rejects it. Most of these lines were taken directly from Thomas Middleton 's play The Witch. David Garrick kept these added scenes in his eighteenth-century version. The witches in his play are played by three everyday women who manipulate political events in England through marriage and patronage, and manipulate elections to have Macbeth made Treasurer and Earl of Bath.
The entire play is a commentary on the political corruption and insanity surrounding the period. As with earlier versions, the women are bystanders to the murder of Banquo, as well as Lady Macbeth 's sleepwalking scene. Their role in each of these scenes suggests they were behind Macbeth's fall in a more direct way than Shakespeare's original portrays.
The witches encroach further and further into his domain as the play progresses, appearing in the forest in the first scene and in the castle itself by the end.
Directors often have difficulty keeping the witches from being exaggerated and overly-sensational.
Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 | Shakespeare Learning Zone
The production strongly suggests that Lady Macbeth is in league with the witches. One scene shows her leading the three to a firelight incantation. Once Macbeth is King and they are married, however, she abandons him, revealing that she was not Lady Duncan all along, but a witch.
The real Lady Duncan appears and denounces Macbeth as a traitor. After Macbeth's death, the Three Witches reappear in the midst of wind and storm, which they have been associated with throughout the play, to claim his corpse. They carry it to a ravine and shout, "Macbeth! They are wearing elaborate dresses and hairstyles and appear to be noblewomen as Macbeth and Banquo approach. For example, by the eighteenth century, belief in witches had waned in the United Kingdom.
Such things were thought to be the simple stories of foreigners, farmers, and superstitious Catholics. However art depicting supernatural subjects was very popular.
John Runcimanas one of the first artists to use Shakespearean characters in his work, created an ink-on-paper drawing entitled The Three Witches in — In it, three ancient figures are shown in close consultation, their heads together and their bodies unshown.
Runciman's brother created another drawing of the witches called The Witches show Macbeth The Apparitions painted circa —, portraying Macbeth's reaction to the power of the witches' conjured vision.
Both brothers' work influenced many later artists by removing the characters from the familiar theatrical setting and placing them in the world of the story. In it, the witches are lined up and dramatically pointing at something all at once, their faces in profile. Three figures are lined up with their faces in profile in a way similar to Fuseli's painting.
However, the three figures are recognisable as Lord Dundas the home secretary at the timeWilliam Pitt prime ministerand Lord Thurlow Lord Chancellor.
The drawing is intended to highlight the insanity of King George and the unusual alliance of the three politicians. The first, entitled Macbeth, Banquo and the Three Witches was a frustration for him. His earlier paintings of Shakespearean scenes had been done on horizontal canvases, giving the viewer a picture of the scene that was similar to what would have been seen on stage. Woodmason requested vertical paintings, shrinking the space Fuseli had to work with. In this particular painting he uses lightning and other dramatic effects to separated Macbeth and Banquo from the witches more clearly and communicate how unnatural their meeting is.
Macbeth and Banquo are both visibly terrified, while the witches are confidently perched atop a mound. Silhouettes of the victorious army of Macbeth can be seen celebrating in the background, but lack of space necessitates the removal of the barren, open landscape seen in Fuseli's earlier paintings for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery of the same scene.
Fuseli evidently intended the two paintings to be juxtaposed.