Thursday, January 30, 2020
In Shakespeares Macbeth various devices are used to present the weird sisters as integral to the plot Essay Example for Free
In Shakespeares Macbeth various devices are used to present the weird sisters as integral to the plot Essay In Shakespeares Macbeth various devices are used to present the weird sisters as integral to the plot. In a modern context, are they still plausible figures? So witherd and so wild in their attire, that look not like thinhabitants othearth, and yet are ont? This description of the three weird sisters given by Banquo on first setting eyes on them creates an illusion of hell like hags; decayed and disfigured creatures. They are unnatural: they seem to be women but are not. It is Banquo who thinks they are evil: What! Can the devil speak true? Macbeth does not. Macbeth is intrigued by the sisters and later tells Lady Macbeth that he burned in desire to question them further. Macbeth asks the witches to stay showing he is interested in their predictions; Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more. The sisters speak dangerous thoughts, the same perhaps already plaguing his mind. If their predictions were already thoughts in the back of Macbeths mind, then the sisters lack power over him at this point. By examining the first conversation he has with Lady Macbeth on first returning home from battle, And when goes hence, tomorrow as he purposes this could be seen as evidence of couple having discussed the downfall of Duncan on an earlier date. If this is true then the sisters could be seen as mere triggers; they release the fiery evil within Macbeth. The fact that the sisters are in the first scene of the play confirms that they are important characters and from what they say, When the hurlyburlys done, when the battles lost and won gives the impression they know what is going to pass in the rest of the play. They meet in foul weather and talk of thunder, lightening and the fog and filthy air, giving the audience a first impression that Macbeth is a dark, dangerous play in which the theme of evil is central. They embody a malign and demonic intelligence. Their information does tempt Macbeth-but it is crucial to remember: they do not invite him to murder Duncan or even suggest a thing. Information is morally neutral until human beings begin to interpret it. The three hags prophecy that Macbeth will be king, they make no inclination whatsoever how he will come about this regal title. A lingering question still remains; had Macbeth given thought to killing Duncan before, and if the sisters had not made their prophecy, would Macbeth have murdered Duncan that night at the castle? In fact this is an unanswerable question but at the same time also very crucial. For if the answer is yes, the sisters would no longer be integral to the plot but be there just for the means of a supernatural subplot. On the other hand taking it as is given in the play, the implications of this are that Macbeth relies wholly on the sisters to spur him on. Macbeth is not a fool he realises that the prophecies cannot be ill, cannot be good and the forecasts of the future must come at a cost. Later on though, Macbeth no doubt driven by the success of his murdering of Duncan, seems to forget the sisters haunt that none of woman born shall harm Macbeth and the movement of Birnam Wood. Banquos warning to Macbeth concerning the instruments of darkness might also be seen as prophetical; Macbeth is betrayed as a result of believing these truths, and he comes to realise this in his final confrontation with Macduff. As the play goes on Macbeth is mixing his conscious life with his subconscious and the weird sisters become like a drug for him; the more you get, the better you feel, the more you want. The weird sisters prophecies draw out the evil within Macbeth; everyone has the basis to be truly wicked but not all of us have the trigger to pull it off, most of us are too full of the milk of human kindness. Regarding Macbeth, the weird sisters were his trigger. The evil does not come from anywhere else other than human nature. The sisters have not completely managed to corrupt Macbeth though. Both before and after Duncans murder Macbeth shows signs that his own natural feelings are still present in his character and that the witches do not have total power over him. He is foul for the things that he has done but is somewhat fair as he still has a natural human conscience. Before the murder Macbeth thinks that it would be cruel to kill innocent Duncan: Besides, this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, Had I but died an hour before this chance I had lived a blessed time. His feelings about Duncans murder are very similar to those about Banquos murder although he only acted out the first himself. He is sick with worry and guilt about Banquos murder, so much so he is turned to near madness by the bloody ghost of Banquo haunting him. On stage, Shakespeare sought to make the Witches actable and recognisable to his audience.In Britain we either rationalise Witchcraft or mock it and we have the added problem of an audience having seen Macbeth a countless number of times, often in very unconvincing renditions of Double, double toil and trouble it has even become some what of a comic joke book. With hooked nosed women dressed in black with pointed hats chanting round a cauldron; not quite a depiction of three terrifying, blood curdling, residents of hell. Shakespeare himself had to make adjustments to keep up with stage fashion. Originally he had three devils in place of the weird sisters, but the theatrical currency of devils was already starting to devalue through overuse, and they were more likely to induce laughter than fear. James I who was on the throne when Macbeth was written, famously believed in witches, he even wrote the novel, Daemonologie on the subject. Yet, during the lifetime of the king, attitudes to stage witches shifted and they started down the same comic route as the devils before them. This might be why no one in the text of Macbeth uses the word witch. When Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, weird characters were deemed capable of prophecy. Macbeth makes the association when he asks why the sisters stop our way, with such prophetic greeting. The modern mind, though, hear the modern denotation of weird, which incidentally, is used to describe those bearded ladies who vanish into the air. Formerly, weird ladies; those who endowed prophetic powers, were presumed to have magical powers as well. Now, ladies who think they have magical powers are presumed to be weird or peculiar Therefore it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make a contemporary western materialistic audience believe in them. Directors struggle to think of new interpretations of how to represent them. Are they young or old, male or female, disfigured or beautiful? Or even to represent them with the appearance of normal human beings, for that in itself is probably the most frightening understanding. Robert Cohen, in his 1982 Colorado Shakespeare Festival production, cast three beautiful women as the witches. Dressed in topless gowns they seduced Macbeth into a life of crime and corruption; here the weird sisters were depicted as real women more psychic than supernatural. Perhaps they too like Macbeth had morality, but had all the goodness sucked away and the evil human nature was dragged out of them and they were left even more corrupt than Macbeth is, at least he has the next life; hell we assume, they have to spend eternity festering in this world. This of course would be going against Shakespeares description of them but in my opinion in order to create three plausible figures in a modern context it is essential to create three characters; if they do even have any character that will make todays critical and realistic mind really believe that they are looking upon true forces of evil, rather than three women in black cloaks chanting round a cauldron. Personally it would not be plausible in my mind that they would be able to take the evil out of a man, who could do such terrible deeds. Perhaps a modern interpretation might be that it is genetics which control the way people make decisions; for if a director were to stage a futuristic Macbeth with the weird sisters as genetic engineers controlling the future, this would gain the desired effect on the audience; pure fear. Also, at the same time keeping up with stage fashions, test tube babies; the idea of creating humans unnaturally. For all our scientific rationality, modern society still acknowledges that there are forces we cannot explain. Some people believe in supernatural phenomenon; ghosts witches, evil forces; others would explain everything as from within the human mind; for example Lady Macbeth who generates the evil is already within Macbeth, therefore are just plot devices, there to release it from him. Even though they cause no first hand evil themselves, they evil that they thus create by delivering their riddle like prophecies is integral to the tragedy of Macbeth and without them fair would not be foul and foul would not be fair.