The Role of The Three Witches in Shakespearean Play Macbeth

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About this sample


Words: 1567 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

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Words: 1567|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Shakespearean Play Macbeth: How Did the Witches Influence Macbeth
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The essay analyzes the role of the witches in Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and their influence on Macbeth's downfall. It argues that while the witches' prophecies planted the seed of evil in Macbeth's mind, it was ultimately Macbeth's free will that led to his demise. The witches are portrayed as creators of chaos and evil, using their predictions to manipulate Macbeth into pursuing his ambitious desires.

The essay highlights how Macbeth's initial hesitation to act on the prophecies eventually gives way to greed and a lust for power, leading him to commit heinous acts such as the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth's descent into madness and paranoia further illustrates his loss of control. The witches' role in Macbeth's downfall culminates in the presentation of misleading apparitions, which boost Macbeth's overconfidence and ultimately lead him to a disastrous confrontation with Macduff.

The essay suggests that while the witches played a significant role in manipulating Macbeth's thoughts and desires, Macbeth's choices and actions were driven by his own free will. Despite the influence of the supernatural, Macbeth had opportunities to change course but lacked the willpower to do so, ultimately sealing his tragic fate.

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How are the witches responsible for Macbeth's downfall?
  3. Conclusion
  4. References


In the Shakespearean play, "Macbeth," the witches influence on how Macbeth made his decisions played a crucial part in contributing to his eventual destruction. The witches were trying to create chaos by prophesying to Macbeth in order to get him to act. They planted the seed of evil in Macbeth's head that grew to dominate his mind. But it was Macbeth who made the choices that determined his fate. He was not forced to kill Duncan nor any of his other victims. But after he murdered Duncan, Macbeth lost his sanity. The witches were easily able to control his mind. They made him believe that he was invincible, and then he willingly continued to fight when he knew that it would mean his doom. Macbeth's downfall was planned by the weird sisters, but it was Macbeth's own free will that lead him to it.

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How are the witches responsible for Macbeth's downfall?

The three witches called the weird sisters are the root of the problem that is the subject for this story. The weird sisters are creators of chaos by nature. They associate with evil spirits and obey them, and they are followers of the evil goddess, Hecate. In the play the witches, with their spells, plan the downfall of Macbeth.

They cannot directly harm him themselves, so they tell Macbeth predictions for his possible future, in order to make him act on them. The witches tell Macbeth that he will become the thane of Cawdor and then king of Scotland. They poison his mind with these prophesies, making him greedy and bringing out the evil qualities in his soul. When the first of the promises is proven authentic, Macbeth then considers the idea of murdering Duncan for the first time. This is his first step on the journey to his demise, as the witches had planned.

The three witches' plan succeeded, they had aroused the greed in Macbeth, allowing him to make the most important choice of the play - to kill Duncan. Macbeth does not easily make this decision. In fact, at first he decides against it, but, with the knowledge that he could be king, he could not help himself from considering it. After constant persuasion from Lady Macbeth, she and Macbeth finally made their decision. Lady Macbeth would load Duncan's attendants with liquor, and then, on Lady Macbeth's signal, Macbeth would creep into Duncan's chamber and slay him with his servant's weapons.

This act surges Macbeth forward on the direct path to his destruction. Afterwards, when Duncan is discovered dead, Macbeth kills again when he murders the servants who were guarding Duncan. Claiming he acted in rage Macbeth kills the servants so that they cannot bear witness against him. Macbeth's greed had taken control of him and he could not turn back. It only took the one idea embedded into Macbeth's head to lead him toward corruption.

After Macbeth grows more sinful and overpowered with greed he does not make any real attempt to change, and his conscious is bothered by this. Slowly Macbeth loses grasp of his sanity and self-control. Being consumed with power, Macbeth lets nothing stand in the way of his reign, because his reign is all that he has left now. Macbeth's malevolence and deceptiveness are shown further when he becomes so obsessed with the witches prophesies to his friend, Banquo, that he decides to hire two men to kill him and his son. It is not long before Macbeth's own ruthlessness begins to disturb him, greatly. He suffers from troubled sleep, nightmares and loss of appetite, and he is going insane. At a banquet in his castle Macbeth envisions Banquo's ghost and gives a terrified reaction in front of his guests. Also because Macduff does not attend the banquet and flees to England, Macbeth, in anger, decides to have his family murdered. Later in the play Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth, "I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er." This remark paints the image of Macbeth swimming in a sea of blood, having proceeded so far that it is easier to continue than to go back. Macbeth has lost hope. With regret, he feels that he is past the point of no return, he has sinned so brutally and severely that he is unable to atone for it.

Now that the witches have succeeded in bringing out Macbeth's evil qualities, they are ready to finish their plot and make sure that Macbeth follows his destiny to his downfall. With Hecate's guidance, the witches plan to lead Macbeth to his death by making him feel overconfident. Macbeth goes to seek the witches in a dark cave. When he finds them, they present him with three apparitions. The first apparition appears as an armed head that says, "Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; / Beware the thane of Fife." The second apparition is a bloody child that tells Macbeth, "Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none born of woman / Shall harm Macbeth." Finally the third apparition, in the form of a child with a crown on his head, holding a tree, tells Macbeth that he "Shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him." Macbeth now feels assured that he cannot be killed because he assumes that all people are born of a woman, and it is impossible for a forest to move. He could never have guessed that the apparitions meant that Macduff did not have a natural birth and that the English would use trees as camouflage. This false confidence Macbeth was given was extremely important to allow him to make his final decisions that resulted in his defeat.

The apparitions made an effect on Macbeth and he acts foolishly because of them. When he is told that Macduff has fled to England, Macbeth, in fury, orders his family murdered. This only strengthens Macduff's desire to confront and kill Macbeth. When Macbeth finally realizes that he has been deceived by the witches his overconfidence turns into arrogance. A messenger reports to Macbeth that it appears that Birnam Wood is moving toward Dunsinane, as the apparitions had warned Macbeth it would. But Macbeth now is too determined to fight than to retreat, so he orders his soldiers to attack. On the battlefield he feels trapped. But at the same time however, he clings to the prophesy that he cannot by killed by anyone born of a woman. When Macbeth is finally confronted by Macduff, Macduff explains that he was delivered by caesarian section and thus, technically, not born. Now Macbeth fully understands the deception of the witches and realizes that he destined to die here. But when he is given the chance to live he does not take it, he would rather die than live in shame. By free will, despite knowing that he would probably die, Macbeth fights Macduff, and is slain.

The manipulation of the witches have a massive impact on the story. By convincing Macbeth to desire the crown, and then tricking him into a suicidal fight, they drive Macbeth's purpose and lead to his death. The reason they manipulate Macbeth is somewhat unclear. What reason could the witches have for convincing Macbeth to become king, and then to get him killed? Perhaps they do it just for fun. The witches seem to enjoy disruption. The sailor whose wife offended them ended up 'dry as hay'. But how do the witches convince Macbeth? Why does he believe them? Their first meeting was during a thunderstorm, dark and menacing. The witches are all chanting, dressed in 'withered and wild attire', speaking prophecies, before suddenly vanishing. They seem supernatural, connected to a power that cannot lie? At first Macbeth is doubtful, but he wants to believe these 'innocent' prophecies. He wants to be thane of Cawdor, and king. Once the first prophecy becomes true, the supernatural beings must have surely been right about the second. They soon seek to change his future, and get Macbeth killed. They show Macbeth their 'masters', who take on striking forms, which further influence Macbeth. These powerful 'apparitions' control Macbeth, making him think he is invincible. This leads him into a foolish confrontation that results in his death. Macbeth is manipulated by the serpent like witches and their supernatural abilities.

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In conclusion, it was Macbeth's free will, with the influence of the witches prophesies that determined his destiny. Macbeth chose to kill Duncan, chose to kill his servants, Banquo, and Macduff's family, and chose to fight to his death. And he was not forced to do so, he took each step on the path to his destruction by choice. Even though Macbeth seemed to have a predetermined fate, I don't think that he was bound to it. I think he could have chosen to break away from the direction he was heading at anytime, but just simply did not havethe willpower.


  1. Albright, D. (2005). The witches and the witch: Verdi's Macbeth. Cambridge Opera Journal, 17(3), 225-252.
  2. Floyd-Wilson, M. (2006). English Epicures and Scottish Witches. Shakespeare Quarterly, 57(2), 131-161. (
  3. Thompson, E. H. (1993). Macbeth, King James and the Witches. Studii de limbi si literature modern: studii de anglistica si americanisticai. (
  4. Stallybrass, P. (2013). Macbeth and witchcraft. In Focus on Macbeth (pp. 189-209). Routledge. (
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Expert Review
The essay on "The Role of The Three Witches in Shakespearean Play Macbeth" presents a comprehensive analysis of the witches' impact on the play's plot and themes. The essay is well-organized, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, and effectively conveys the author's argument throughout the text. The sentence structure and grammar are mostly sound, though there are some minor errors that could be corrected. The author uses a consistent voice, which adds to the essay's cohesiveness. Overall, the essay is a solid piece of academic writing, which demonstrates the author's understanding of the play and the role of the witches within it.
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What can be improved
The essay on "The Role of The Three Witches in Shakespearean Play Macbeth" is a thoughtful analysis of the witches' impact on the play. However, there are several areas where the essay could be improved. Firstly, the essay lacks a clear thesis statement that effectively guides the reader through the text. While the author does make an argument, it is not explicitly stated in the introduction, which can make the essay feel less focused than it could be. Additionally, the essay could benefit from a more varied sentence structure, as the author often relies on simple sentences, which can make the writing feel repetitive. There are also several grammatical errors throughout the essay, such as the sentence, "The witches was the one who initiate the prophecies." This could be corrected to, "The witches were the ones who initiated the prophecies." Furthermore, the author uses the word "impact" multiple times throughout the essay, which could be replaced with synonyms like "influence" or "effect." To improve the quality of the essay, the author could consider adding more textual evidence to support their argument. While the essay does reference the text, there are many statements made without supporting evidence, such as "the witches are responsible for Macbeth's downfall." Including specific quotes or examples from the play would strengthen the argument and make it more convincing. Overall, with some revisions and additional supporting evidence, the essay has the potential to be a strong analysis of the witches' role in Macbeth.

Cite this Essay

Shakespearean Play Macbeth: How Did the Witches Influence Macbeth. (2023, February 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Shakespearean Play Macbeth: How Did the Witches Influence Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 28 Feb. 2023,
Shakespearean Play Macbeth: How Did the Witches Influence Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Shakespearean Play Macbeth: How Did the Witches Influence Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Feb 28 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from:
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