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Lady Macbeth and the three witches are extremely wicked, but they are also stronger and more imposing than the men around them.The sinister witches cast the mood for the entire play.
Just as Lady Macbeth will prove to be the antithesis of the ideal wife, Macbeth proves to be a completely disloyal subject.
In Act 1, scene 7, for instance, Macbeth muses on Duncan’s many good qualities, reflects that Duncan has been kind to him, and thinks that perhaps he ought not to kill his king.
Once Lady Macbeth hears of the witches’ prophecy, Duncan’s life is doomed.
Macbeth contains some of Shakespeare’s most vivid female characters.
Their rhyming incantations stand out eerily amid the blank verse spoken by the other characters, and their grotesque figures of speech establish a lingering aura.
Whenever they appear, the stage directions deliberately link them to unease and lurking chaos in the natural world by insisting on “Thunder” or “Thunder and lightning.” Shakespeare has the witches speak in language of contradiction.
The stage directions indicate that the play begins with a storm, and malignant supernatural forces immediately appear in the form of the three witches.
From there, the action quickly shifts to a battlefield that is dominated by a sense of the grisliness and cruelty of war.
Their famous line “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” is a prominent example (1.1.10), but there are many others, such as their characterization of Banquo as “lesser than Macbeth, and greater” (1.3.63).
Such speech adds to the play’s sense of moral confusion by implying that nothing is quite what it seems.