In Macbeth, the witches seem to be confusing figures, they are portrayed as dark, eccentric, and strangely amusing creatures. It doesn?t seem that they have that much of an importance early on, but after finishing the story and truly comprehending, we see that the witches have done a lot. Through certain examples, and subtle clues displayed in the story, we can safely deduce that the ?weird sisters? were specifically designed to implant ideas in Macbeth?s brain, which later influence him by giving him all types of information that eventually affect his manner of handling greed, guilt, and other emotions that put him virtually on the edge of sanity.
We see that the witches display a keen interest in Macbeth, reasons for the interest aren?t exactly given, but illustrations of interest can be shown. As Berryman suggests, the witches have ulterior motives for Macbeth. We see this through Berryman?s example, which states that at first, Macbeth is hailed as a great hero, but in his coming, he is hailed by the pricking of a witch?s thumb. Which basically means that he is brought on a sort of omen, not portrayed as something that could be of some good. Berryman brings up the fact that the witches know that Macbeth shall be bad, it is not stated at this point of the story why, but it is just instilled that he is (321). This example illustrates the fact that the witches do not have the role of Macbeth?s aids, but rather as Macbeth?s bad influences. Which is also supported by Shwister in his line ?Their appetite for mischief is infinite?(Shwister 60). Which tells us that the natural intent of the witches is to do evil, of which they can never be satisfied, which is displayed by the word ?infinite? in the quote, and by then being naturally prone to evil, they act upon Macbeth in a negative type of influence.
Influence is again illustrated when we see that the Macbeth meets the witches for the first time. The witches wish to receive complete attention from Macbeth, we see that they use sly ways of going about it. As Shwister states ?When the Witches tell him that he will be Thane of Cawdor, and then King, they feed the secret dream he had shared only with his Lady?(59). This quote displays the fact that the witches know what is Macbeth?s dark desire. By them knowing this we see the fact that don?t just have some insight into Macbeth?s inner knowing, but we also get the fact that they have an interest in Macbeth that can be shown by them giving Macbeth information that would excite his fancy.
We can look at the above statement that Macbeth, after hearing this, begins to take on a transformation that Bloom marvelously compares to the story of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. ?Visitors as we may (or may not) be, we fear that Macbeth, out Mr. Hyde, has the power to realize our own potential for active evil, poor Jeckyll eventually turns into Mr. Hyde and cannot get back; Shakespeare?s art is to suggest we could have such a fate?(523). What this quote means is that Macbeth, after hearing what the witches have told him, has transformed from the innocent and kind Dr. Jeckyll, into the evil Mr. Hyde. Also, the last part of the quote states that Macbeth more than likely would not be able to turn back and change his way of thinking. Macbeth has changed, change in a manner that has left him in the realm between innocence and evil.
De Quincey helps illustrate what Macbeth has turned into because of the ideas implanted by the witches, in his passage that states ?With Macbeth and Lady Macbeth we are made to feel, by dialogue and soliloquy, that their human nature, the nature of love and mercy, has vanished, and the fiendish nature has taken it?s place?(167). In this quote De Quincey brings into light the idea that Macbeth has changed, and put aside compassion and love, and replaced it with evil.
Berryman also agrees on this fact, by his state ?This is variously glossed by the commentators as
Superhuman,? ?subhuman,? ?devilish?; but the meaning is clear, that there is a possibility that the human Macbeth-the demonic?(321). In his quote Berryman states that Macbeth has changed into the most evil; demonic. By using the word demonic, we get the idea of utter and pure evil, evil without compassion, and evil without contest. Evil that cannot by denied.
Evil is again illustrated in the scene when Macbeth wishes to talk to Hecate. Said to be the utter evil of evils, we see that Macbeth has reached a point where he is willing to give him self up completely to evil, all for the sake of becoming king. He doesn?t just wish to become king, he wants to make sure that he stays king, showing the greedy side of Macbeth. We see this illustrated when Macbeth decides to kill Banqou. Macbeth decides to kill Banqou, because the witches, again serving as advice givers, tell Macbeth that Banqou?s children will become king. So, to prevent them from becoming king, and replacing him, he kills Banqou. As Shwister states, ?Macbeth turns around away from Banqou without a word tragically quick to believe what he wants to believe, whatever feeds ambition? (155). With this, we see that Macbeth no longer see reality, he just says the world in the way that he wants. He sees Banqou not as an honest friend, but as a man who will bring on children that will steal his crown. So through that reason, he wishes to kill Banqou. Through killing Banqou, Macbeth will receive unwanted visions that leave him on the verge of insanity.
The most crucial moment that we see in the story, the moment that shows us that Macbeth has reached the point where he reached to edge of sanity, is the point after Banqou gets murdered. We see that after Macbeth is told of Banqou?s death, Macbeth views Banqou as an apparition. Appearing as a sign from his subconscious that he has done something real wrong, and now he has to live with has action, Macbeth is shown Banqou in a matter where Macbeth would not be able to get rid of him. Macbeth?s guilt has finally come out in a fashion where it can ruin his credibility as king. By displaying this show of insanity in front of everyone at the dinner table, everyone begins to doubt Macbeth?s word. As Shwister puts it, ?Macbeth is a trance of horror, half-formed thoughts of murder rising from depths of his soul? (150). Macbeth has stepped into a realm outside of sanity. A realm that leaves him seeing visions in the dark of faces that he has brought on through his actions.
Seeing visions of murder that put him in states of paranoia and disillusion. As we see later on, when the forest appears to come to him, Macbeth realizes that he is going to die, and he chooses to give in because his guilt tells him that that is what he deserves.
We have seen that Macbeth relies greatly on the witches. Through examples from such as his motives for killing Banqou to his motives for killing Duncan. We see that the witches work as much for Macbeth, as Macbeth works for the witches. As Bloom suggests, the witches need someone to be able to control someone to have as a drone to carry on evil for them. (532). We have seen many examples brought up. We have seen that Macbeth takes the witches? suggestion more heavily than he does of his own wife, as Berryman states when says ?This gives that idea, that Macbeth doesn?t tell, or asks for advice from Lady Macbeth on some of the murders?(324). Which means that some of the murders were a result of the witches telling him about things that could happen and that he didn?t always rely on what she had to say, but more on what the witches had to say.
We have seen that the witches instill thought into Macbeth?s mind, which later lead him to commit evil acts such as killing Duncan and Banqou. We have seen that the images that were instilled into Macbeth?s mind included images that led him to be greedy but wanting to stay king, and stopping at no costs to do it, such as by giving himself up to the utmost evil, Hecate. We have seen characters in the story doubt Macbeth?s sanity when he believes that he sees Banqou?s ghost. All of these instances prove the fact that the witches implanted the ideas of evil in Macbeth?s head. From knowing this we can safely deduce, that the point for having the witches in the story was to have them influence Macbeth.