Comment on the dramatic significance of the opening scene in ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare

In ” Macbeth”, the introduction of the witches at the very outset of the tragedy is deeply significant. Shakespeare’s object is to raise the mind at once to the high tragic tone. The witches appear in a desert place with thunder and lighting. It is the barren place where evil has obtained the mastery of things. To them —”Fair is foul, foul is fair.” Macbeth attracts their attention and excites their interest. It is plain that such an error at the outset of the scene Macbeth is tempted to murder Duncan because of the encounter with the weird sisters. The weird sisters encounter him because he has projected the murder. These ministers of evil who are privileged to see the — “mind’s construction” in the mind itself, find that Macbeth already harbors a wicked design on the throne of Scotland in his mind.

The first scene consisting of eleven lines has a vague report of a battle thunder lighting and a future meeting. That all without caring to explain who’s who and what’s what. Shakespeare takes a bold plunge into the middle and introduces us to a scene of thunder, lightning, and rain and to three disheveled creatures in the wild attire. A cat mews from somewhere and a toad calls. We see neither but we hear them. An uncanny thrill creeps over us —when all at once they vanish saying certain enigmatic things.

The little scene is a fragment of a witch’s Sabbath of the king that Geothe describes in ‘Faust’. Wilson Knight points out that the play which bristles with questions opens characteristically with questions. The ambiguity of the language contributes to the enigmatic character of the play. In no play probably are so many questions asked and so much epigram present. The last line tunes up the spirit of the play

(i) excite our interest in Macbeth, the hero.
(ii) to mark at the outset, the predominance of the supernatural elements.
(iii) to present a suitable background and setting for tragedy.
(iv) to show that evil is their good, they labeled down all moral and aesthetic distinctions.

To.conclude with Wilson Knight the last line present the main theme of the play of reversal of values.

Also read; Character of Lady Macbeth in “Macbeth”

Also read; Discuss the role of three witches in “Macbeth”