I need help understanding how to compare a film adaptation to a script. My essay question is: "Compare how the characters of the witches are presented in Shakespeare's Macbeth with Rupert Goold's...

I need help understanding how to compare a film adaptation to a script. My essay question is: "Compare how the characters of the witches are presented in Shakespeare's Macbeth with Rupert Goold's adaptation."

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Shakespeare's witches are presented in the classical image. We are introduced to a threesome of ugly hags who have beards and who are the epitome of "creatures of the night." Banquo refers to their "chappy" fingers and "skinny lips" and furthermore observes:

"you should be women

but your beards forbid me to interpret

That you are so."

Their physical embodiment and their actions speak of evil. They appear and disappear at will and are veiled in mist. They "Hover through the fog and filthy air." These witches also have familiars - the first and second witches refer to them by name in Act One: "Paddock" and "Graymalkin."

They use a cauldron to create spells and practice their magic and they can fly. The cauldron is filled with all sorts of horrid ingredients to increase the power and potency of their evil. They clearly subscribe to the general norm.

In Rupert Goold's adaptation, the witches are presented in a much more pleasant manner. The setting is modern and the witches meet Macbeth and Banquo in a military hospital. They are presented as a threesome of young nurses and are quite attractive. This, however, does not detract from their evil. They are in all aspects, except in appearance, the equal of Shakespeare's witches. They also appear and disappear at will, albeit in a modern setting. They are just as much progenitors of evil as their counterparts.

Rupert Goold's adaptation, however, does not have any references to familiars and does not recall any of the evil that the trio has already indulged in. Their focus is Macbeth and the scenes feature their contact with at first both Macbeth and Banquo, and later only with Macbeth. There is no cauldron. Macbeth's final encounter with the witches features them abusing corpses in the abandoned hospital. The witches use the corpses to make further predictions. Furthermore, Hecate does not make an appearance.

It is ironic that the witches are presented as care-givers in the film adaptation, since the least of their concern is the good of human society. They are bent on sowing evil and destruction. 

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