How would an Elizabethan audience react to witchcraft?

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Though this is a minor point with regard to terminology, I'll begin by mentioning that if we're discussing Macbeth, it was actually during James I's reign that the play premiered. Therefore it was a Jacobean rather than an Elizabethan audience that first experienced it. But the answer to your question is that, in my view, there would have been a wide range of reactions among the theatergoers to the concepts of witches and witchcraft.

England and Europe as a whole were in a period of transition in the 1600s from the remnants of the old feudal order to a world in which the elements of our modern social order were coming together. The educational level of the urban population, especially, was rising. Huge advances in people's understanding of the universe had occurred with the work of Copernicus and others, and in England men like Francis Bacon were bringing what we call the "scientific method" into the public consciousness. I mention all this as an indication that a large number of people in Shakespeare's time would have known that a belief in the existence of witches is merely a superstition, and would therefore have seen the witches in Macbeth, and the supernatural elements of the play overall, as merely symbolic and not to be taken as literal or factual. That said, we know of course that a great many people still did believe literally in witches and demons. The Salem witchcraft trials occurred toward the end of the 1600s, albeit in America, where ironically religious fanaticism was perhaps more intense than in the mother country. But it was not until the early 1700s, a century after Macbeth, that the last executions of women alleged to be witches took place in Britain.

The witches in Macbeth are only one segment of the general presentation of magical and supernatural elements in Shakespeare's plays. George Orwell wrote, in his essay "Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool," that although much speculation has been made in the critical literature about Shakespeare's religious beliefs, it would be difficult to prove on the basis of his plays that he had any. But whether he did or not, as with literature in general the central point is that religion, spiritual matters, witchcraft and the supernatural are all open to interpretation in the plays. And just as now, some people in Shakespeare's time would have taken the witches (and the ghost of Banquo, and so on) literally, and others would not have. The fact that there are multiple ways of looking at it is another sign of the greatness of Macbeth.

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Since one of the play's most dramatic set pieces is the appearance of the witches, it is important to note that Shakespeare's lifetime saw a pervasive belief in witchcraft that led to the widespread accusation, imprisonment, torture, and execution of thousands of people for crimes related to witchcraft.

The witch craze was centered mainly in France, Germany, and the British Isles, and later spread to the North American Colonies with the English Puritans (culminating in the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692-3). This means the presence of the witches in the play would carry an especially menacing context for contemporary audiences in Shakespeare's day. It is also important to consider how Shakespeare felt about including them in the story.

In 1486, a medieval treatise on witchcraft was written by two Germans, Kramer and Sprenger: The Hammer of Witches, or Malleus Maleficarum. The book, which became very popular and was read widely, suggests women are very susceptible to witchcraft, stating "All witchcraft stems from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable." This sexual undercurrent flows through Macbeth as well: Lady Macbeth seductively manipulates her husband and convinces him that murder is the best course to fulfill his goals. Her own murderous acts place her in a menacing light, and she appears unrepentant, even as she seems to feel guilt and shame ("Out, damned spot!").

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