For my second essay for Shakespeare, I decided to analyze the impact of minor characters on a plays plot. I wanted to use this theme and apply it to Macbeth because it seems to reppear and a lot of Shakespeare’s plays
From the first act of Macbeth, we meet two witches who proclaim to Macbeth and Banquo their future. Macbeth is said to be king and Banquo’s children will become royalty. As we know, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are excited by his proclaimed future and kill the current king to make the witches statement true. This is our first encounter with the witches controlling the plot of the play. Now that we enter Act III, Banquo realizes Macbeth’s future has become true, he wants his fortunes. In essence, the witches contribute very few lines to the play but they control the major characters actions. The witches were able to force murder on the current king, what will Banquo do in order to make his come true?
Entering Act Iv, the witches reappear in a cavern spitting out riddles to the major characters. They do not answer any questions, instead perform a crazy dance and vanish. Analyzing this action further, the witches are able to reveal “half truths” but our characters are using their information as whole truths. Even when they speak in riddle, the characters are driven crazy trying to decipher it. They are left with unanswered questions and take matters into their own hands. Instead of ignoring the witches prophecies, they are controlled by it and will perform violent tasks in order to obtain a “half truth”
Looking deeper into the witches as characters, they are vague in appearance as well. They call themselves women, but they have man-ish qualities, like beards. Shakespeare cross-genders the witches because of their confusing nature. Because they speak in rhyme and riddles, speak half-truths, it does make sense for them to be half woman, half man. Mixing the two genders makes them even more confusing then they already are.
While doing some research on the two sisters, it suggests looking up terminology for the word “weird.” The anglo-saxon word “wyrd” means fate or doom. Both of these words apply directly to the two sisters, they rhyme and riddle fate while almost forcing the characters to their doom.