Act I – Scene.i
“When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning or in rain?
When the hurly burly’s done
When the battle’s lost, and won '''''''
''. Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air.”
The play opens with three witches predicting the future in a windswept and
barren land during a violent thunderstorm.
Macbeth is set in medieval Scotland against a backdrop
of a wild and blasted land. This is an exposed area of Scotland covered in heather and pockmarked with stunted trees, twisted by the elements. This barren place has few landmarks and no buildings, and
three weird sisters inhabit this hostile world.
‘Weird is an old English word meaning ‘fate’, so Shakespeare wishes these
three sisters to be linked with the fates of classic mythology.
Shakespeare also makes it clear that the three sisters are casting a spell,
as the speech is written in short rhyming verse.
The audience can be in no doubt that sorcery and the supernatural will be
important elements of the play.
The plot will be full of riddles and mysteries, and some events will be
clear and others will be confused.
The witches set out the fate that awaits certain characters.
Traditionally the mythical fates, of which there are usually three, have specific responsibilities. One would spin the thread of a person’s life, another would measure it, and the third would cut it.