The witches are seen as being evil. This is because at the time, witches were accepted as being real and evil. Shown in the play because the first scene is thunder and lightning, which is associated with terrible happenings and things so suggests witches are terrible things. They speak in rhymes and use many equivocal terms e.g. ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair’. This suggests reversal and unbalance, which leads to chaos and disorder in Macbeth’s life. This is suggested because they immediately mention Macbeth so he is already associated with the witches and seen as being evil. The chaos is also shown in the natural world by the weather and natural events.
Act 1 Scene 3, there is thunder when the witches meet again. The idea of them being evil is reinforced because in this scene because they are cursing a sailor. This suggests that Macbeth will also face a similar type of treatment. The mystery of the witches is increased in this scene because they know Macbeth is coming when the third witch tells the other two, ‘Macbeth doth come.’ This raises the question of how they knew he was coming and reinforces the link between Macbeth and the witches, which suggests to the audience that Macbeth is evil from the beginning of the play. This link is further reinforced when Macbeth’s first line using the same equivocal as the witches, ‘So foul and fair a day I have not seen’.
Banquo is wary of the witches and does not really want to believe that they really because he says ‘That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ earth’, which adds further to their mystery because they are described as being unnatural. However, the suggestion that Macbeth is somehow acquainted with them is again shown when he talks to them directly without fear and asks ‘What are you?’ Nevertheless, this shows to an extent that Macbeth also saw the witches as being unnatural because he enquires about what they are but he does not appear to be afraid.
They then avoid this question and tell Macbeth his prophecies as though this was the purpose all along. Their prophecies give rise to the question whether they knew that he was already Thane of Glamis and the next Thane of Cawdor. This adds to the mystery of the witches and provides some more evidence of the suggestion that they were well acquainted with Macbeth.
Free Macbeth Essays: Atmosphere and Setting
Atmosphere and Setting in Macbeth
Atmosphere and setting plays a very important part in Macbeth.
The play starts with the Witches, which is at a desolate place with thunder and lightning. This is first of all a pathetic fallacy because of the weather being so bad and the hideous appearance of the witches.
This scene also gives us the first sign of the supernatural. The witches are the man source of the evil and supernatural in the play and they also give an impression of fear, horror and mystery. It is important of them to start the play, as they are the catalysts for all
Macbeth’s decisions, so obviously they effect the play quite a lot.
They can foretell the future, defy the laws of nature and change the weather. But their powers are ambiguous; they have to answer to Hecate. They can turn into animals but when one of them turns into a rat it has no tail, showing their flawed power. They also can’t make Macbeth kill Duncan; they just create an atmosphere, manipulating him, which makes him want to kill him.
They use animals to enhance the atmosphere and amplify their evil, unnatural state.
Shakespeare doesn’t just use animals to show the evil of the Witches he also uses animals to convey the state of the country, ie, when the horses eat each other after Duncan has been killed. This shows that
Scotland is in a state of disorder.
The witches also speak in riddles, “fair is foul and foul is fair” which gives the play an uneasy atmosphere, as does their language “Birth strangled babes”. The Witches mainly give the play an uneasy feel because they are violating God’s natural order.
Noise also gives quite a tense atmosphere in the play. When Macbeth goes to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth hears a knell (a traditional funeral bell), an owl shriek and crickets cry. These are all signs of death and it makes Macbeth think that more people know about what Macbeth has done. Also when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are talking after the murder, there is a knocking which gives a very uneasy and tense feel.
Also as the play goes on, Macbeth becomes very paranoid about any noise and it makes the play very tense.
Colour does play a role in setting the atmosphere but only in one or two of the scenes. Red, of course is very important because of the amount of blood in the play. It also plays a big part because both Macbeth and
Lady Macbeth talk about the ‘red misty hell’.
Linked with colour is the important use of light and dark ni the play to