The Witches

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  • The Witches
    • Evil
      • When the Witches are first shown in the play in Act I Scene I, they are accompanied by "Thunder and lightning" which creates an evil and sinister mood
      • The Second Witch says "I'll drain him dry as hay", when referring to the sailor husband of the woman who did not give her any nuts, which shows the evil intentions of the witches
    • Strange
      • The Witches speak in trochaic tetrameter, in comparison to the noble characters that speak in iambic pentameter and the ordinary characters that speak in prose, which makes them seem strange and different
    • Ambiguous
      • The Witches foreshadow the theme of appearance and reality in the play when they say "Fair is foul and foul is fair", which is ambiguous and could suggest that things are not really what they seem to be
      • The Witches use confusing paradoxes, such as "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater" and "Not so happy, yet much happier" when they talk to Banquo, to mislead Macbeth and Banquo
      • The apparitions that the Witches show Macbeth have double meanings, which causes Macbeth to misinterpret them - for example, Macbeth thinks that the armed head is Macduff's but it actually foreshadows Macbeth's beheading
    • Linked to Fate
      • The Witches are often referred to as "the wëird sisters" and "weird" comes from the old English word "word" which means fate, suggesting that the witches are linked to fate
      • Just before meeting the witches, Macbeth says "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" which mirrors the earlier words of the Witches and suggests that they are linked to Macbeth's fate
    • Powerful
      • The witches say "Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-tossed", which suggests that they only have power over nature and not over human life
      • The First Witch says "I myself have all the other, and the very ports they blow, all the quarters that they know", which implies that the Witches are very powerful

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