In what is perhaps the most attention-grabbing opening scene of all of Shakespeare's plays, we are introduced to the Weird Sisters.
The witches as they are known would have been considered by the Elizabethans to be human representatives of supernatural or dark forces. The thunder and lightening used to mark their entrance emphasises their "other worldliness. This association of animals and insects with horror and evil is still evident in our Halloween decorations and scary movies.
The stage direction gives no indication of where the scene takes place, and the first word, "When," indicates that time rather than place will be a major motif of the play.
With all this "hurly burly," it is easy to miss a crucial piece of information: What do they want with him? Either way, this playwriting technique sets up the debate of whether characters are fated to meet to their ends or whether they have free choice.
Here, however, the audience is only aware that the witches will meet Macbeth. The atmosphere of thunder, lightening, "fog and filthy air" imply that it will not be a good meeting. As if all this were not enough, this opening scene has thirteen lines! As predicted by the witches, a battle opens this scene.
The king, Duncan, and his son, Malcolm, receive a report on the battle with the rebel, Macdonald, from the Captain. Duncan is thus established as a man who draws his conclusions from appearances.
Malcolm, on the other hand, seems to put his trust in loyalty and tradition: When the bleeding Captain is questioned by Duncan about Macbeth and Banquo, two of his thanes lordshe says that the two men "doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe" 1. The Thane of Ross known simply as Ross and his companion, Angus, enter the scene to confirm the report of the Captain, adding that the Thane of Cawdor another rebel is defeated.
Since a thane received his lands from the king and owed his loyalty directly to the king, the actions of the Thane of Cawdor is a serious offence punishable by death. Duncan not only orders this punishment immediately, but also awards the title, Thane of Cawdor, to Macbeth for his services to the crown.
This knowledge will be especially important for the scene that follows. Here and now, however, it seems a very normal thing for a king to reward "noble" 1.
Yet, nagging in the back of the mind is the fact that the meeting of the witches with Macbeth is close at hand. What will happen next?. Like scene 1, this scene opens with a peal of thunder and the appearance of the Three Witches.
While the three give many details about just what it is they plan to do to the sailor, Shakespeare is cleverly hinting at the limits of their power. The witches plan to torment the man with buffeting winds, sleeplessness, starvation, and a faulty compass.
All these misfortunes are natural events and do not directly cause death. We only know the meeting is on the heath in the fog from Act One, scene one.
The veracity f the prophecies that follow depend on two factors: The witches disappear without further explanation, but they have made a deep impression on Macbeth, one that shows his initial belief in the prophecies: We will learn later that while Macbeth is childless, Banquo does have a son, so that while Macbeth will be king, he will not be able to pass on his regency.
Ross and Angus enter at this point to confirm that Macbeth is now Thane of Cawdor. The entire section is 2, words.Event. Date. Global Population Statistics.
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