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What quote could I use to compare the witches in Macbeth with Prospero in the Tempest?

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suzyd | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 19, 2012 at 8:58 AM via web

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What quote could I use to compare the witches in Macbeth with Prospero in the Tempest?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:15 PM (Answer #1)

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This is a very interesting question because it infers that Prospero is similar to the witches. As the witches in Macbeth are a clear force of evil and chaos in the play, this therefore suggests that Prospero uses his magical arts for ill and not for good. One way of using the text to suggest this is to look at how Macbeth responds to the prophecies that they give him in Act I scene 3:

Say from whence

You owe this strange intelligence, or why

Upon this blasted heath you stop our way

With such prophetic greeting. Speak, I charge you.

The witches have clearly tormented Macbeth with these prophecies, and his desperate plea to make them stay and explain more of what they have just said reveals a great deal about the way in which they tantalise characters such as Macbeth with their magical arts and lead them on. Macbeth demans reason and purpose for the actions of the witches and is tormented when he is denied this information.

This function of the witches can be compared to the actions of Prospero in using his magic and Ariel to achieve his purposes. In The Tempest, Prospero has been compared to the stage manager of the play in that he uses his arts to move everybody around as he likes and to get them exactly where he wants them. This makes him a remarkably similar figure to the witches in that they use their arts to manipulate characters for their own nefarious purpose.  

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