Discuss the witches as a plot device to change Macbeth's fortune.Im stuck

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ghosts and witches, witches and ghosts... what's to be made of them? Shakespeare uses ghosts and witches to spur and/or stir up the action... move the plot along.

In the play "Hamlet," Hamlet's father's ghost appears, right there in Act 1, to the young Hamlet and tells him to avenge his "foul and most unnatural murder." Although it takes the whole play for Hamlet to get revenge, he is certainly driven by the ghost's request.

And in Macbeth, the play opens, Act 1 scene 1, with the witches, and they talk of Macbeth.


When shall we three meet again?

In thunder, lightning, or in rain?


When the hurlyburly's done;

When the battle's lost and won.


That will be ere the set of sun.


Where the place?


Upon the heath.


There to meet with Macbeth.

They are very much like Hamlet's ghost in that they are supernatural forces (a plot device, if you will) that prod the main character to take action. In "Hamlet," the Ghost, who is related directly to the main character, tells him to take a specific action: to take revenge. In "Macbeth," the witches, who have no direct relationship to the main character, merely serve as tempters, and they leave the deadly deed up to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to perform if they should so choose.