How is starting the play with the witches an effective opening in the play Macbeth?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare effectively starts the play Macbeth with the opening scene of the witches because this early moment introduces the idea of the supernatural as a powerful force in the rest of the play.  The witches' eerie chant of "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" predicts that all may not be as it seems, creating an expectation in the audience that: 1) evil forces are at work in Scotland; 2) the supernatural world may interfere with events in the play; 3) appearances cannot be trusted (I.i.11).  The witches' scene delivers a powerful, albeit eerie statement about the potentially unbalanced environment within the play.