Elizabethan Folklore and the Weird Sisters

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When J.K. Rowling was questioned about the origins of the Weird Sisters, a fictitious band in her Harry Potter series, the famous author responded, “It's the Macbeth idea. I absolutely adore Macbeth. It is possibly my favorite Shakespeare play.” (Prinzi) Appearances in current British works, such as the Harry Potter series, have caused the Weird Sisters to remain as well-known mythical symbols, but The Weird Sister made their debut into British literature long ago through the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The play depicts a Scottish soldier named Macbeth who transforms from a brave Thane to a murderous dictator as a result of his false hope of gaining political power. Macbeth’s downfall begins with a series of predictions from three witches commonly known as The Weird Sisters, who ultimately state that he will become the King of Scotland. In order to fulfill the prophecy, Macbeth kills Duncan, the reigning king, with the help of his vindictive wife, Lady Macbeth. Duncan’s murder results in his two sons fleeing Scotland due to fear, and giving the throne to their cousin, Macbeth. When he was crowned, Macbeth attempts to murder many of his former friends, including the thanes Banquo, Macudff, and their families; as a survivor, Macudff avenges those who died at the hands Macbeth and kills the tyrannical ruler. Although the Weird Sisters have gained their literary fame through being the main characters in Macbeth who gave morbid and seemingly manipulative prophecies to Macbeth, their identities are truly influenced by the stereotypical qualities of witches who were depicted in Elizabethan folklore. Elizabethan folklore involving witchcraft is reflected in the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare through the portrayal of the Weird Sisters. Specifically, the witches’ physical appearances, behavioral traits, psychic abilities, familiars, and connections to the devil
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