How have traditional interpretations commonly interpreted the three witches in "Macbeth"?Iwant to know about Terry Eagleton and his interpretation of the witches.

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Traditionally, the view of the witches are all on the negative side.  The witches are the troublemakers of the play - the catalysts of negative events at best, or the antagonists creating chaos at worst.  Many people have argued that they arrive to "goad" Macbeth into acting upon his ambition ... by suggesting that he should be king, they are able to convince him that he might as well make himself king (Lady Macbeth helps, of course!).  Others argue that they are actually supernatural forces manipulating the situation.  The spells spoken on stage:

The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about:
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,(45)
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! The charm's wound up.

After this spell, not including the original traitorous Thane of Cawdor, nine characters die as a result of Macbeth's actions, including himself.  There is some suggestion here that the witches are causing these events.

Eagleton, however, dramatically reinterprets these characters to be a positive force in the play.  Eagleton argues that the witches are there to expose Macbeth for the traitor that he is, and therefore reinforce the natural order of how the government should be:

It is they who, by releasing ambitious thoughts in Macbeth, expose a reverence for hierarchial social order for what it is, as the pious self-deception of a society based on routine oppression and incessant warfare.

Eagleton would have audiences see the witches as sorts of goddesses, the pure and good force in a bad world.  He says they are the mistreated "unconscious of the drama", and the "poets, propehtesses, and devotees of female cult."  In this way, we read the play as a condemnation of the patriarchal and violent world of men.