It's my favorite work of Shakespeare
and that's probably because it's his darkest--
it not only projects tragedy, but goddamned,
unavoidably FATED death
and doom and utter
And it doesn't hurt that it has witches and not just one or two,
but THREE witches--that magic number that adds great
meaning and power to the proceedings...
“When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
So say the Three Witches at the end of their brief meeting at the beginning of MACBETH, Shakespeare’s darkly tragic tale of ambition and fate. These gals aim to misbehave and boy do they weave the fates of those in the play. Their words give them away throughout…
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.”
“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”
“For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”
The Three Witches or Weird Sisters of Shakespeare’s play are certainly creations of the author, however they link obviously back to The Norns of Scandinavian legend and The Fates of Greco-Roman mythology. They are magical beings who are prophets of the future to come—bad and good. And, in some sense, because of their knowledge it almost comes off as if they are responsible for the fates of those in the play--the power of their knowledge does shape the fates of all involved.
These days they are mostly referred to as Weird Sisters, though Shakespeare never referred to them as such. In fact, he called them “The weyward Sisters”, though it is not clear what exactly he meant by this, it could be interpreted that they were not with the Church—indicating an otherness that definitely implied a dark power and an evil intent. And indeed, they seem to have plenty of both--or at least enough to lead us into temptation and, therefore, damnation.
And now, for the lighter side...