Given that some people today are deeply upset by Harry Potter
, I'm trying to imagine how audiences 400 years ago reacted to the witches in Macbeth
If we accept that people at the time generally believed that witches were real -- King James
certainly did -- I'm wondering how people reacted when the witches came out and started doing incantations and black magic in 4.2
. Wouldn't this be upsetting to a 17th-century audience? Or at least the church?
I also find it puzzling because the witches basically triumph in the play. They decide to destroy Macbeth and the poor guy ends up widowed and headless in the end. They also correctly predict the accession of Banquo's offspring to the throne (i.e. King James) -- wasn't this a risky thing for Shakespeare to do? To say that witches foresaw (and aided) the rise of the current king? And to show the murder of one of the king's distant relatives? Even the whole theme of regicide would seem risky to me. I have read (online) that King James loved the play and banned the play, so if anyone has any information about what really happened I would love to hear it. Recommendations for books about Macbeth are also welcome!
: How did early audiences react to Macbeth
? How did King James react to Macbeth
? And how risky was the play for Shakespeare?