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One could justify that the witches in Mabeth are the most powerful characters in the play. Without the witches, Macbeth would have not heard the prophecies, desired the throne so badly (as a result of his raised ambitious nature), murdered Duncan and Banquo, and died at the hands of Macduff.
Also, given that Macbeth returns to the witches later in the play, to find out more information, shows that he even identifies the witches as powerful.
Not only do the witches have power over the happenings of the play, they also have power over the setting and mood of the play. The play opens with the witches. Thunder and lightening are seen and heard. Normally, the opening of a scene shows some of the most important characters (or most powerful). Given that the play opens with them, the witches can be seen as being important enough (or powerful enough) to open the play with.
Withches are the most powerful characters in Macbeth because without them plot cannot be developed.
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