Do the witches in Macbeth speak in blank verse?


Do the witches in Macbeth speak in blank verse?


William Shakespeare's Macbeth is a tragedy about unchecked ambition. Lord Macbeth is told by three witches that he will one day be king. Instead of waiting for their prophecy to come true, he takes matters into his own hands and murders the current king. This decision sets a chain of events in motion that eventually causes his death.

Answer and Explanation:

No, the witches in Macbeth do not speak in blank verse. They primarily speak in rhyming tetrameters, as seen in Act I, scene 3:

'I myself have all the other,

And the very ports they blow,

All the quarters that they know

I' th' shipman's card.

I'll drain him dry as hay.

Sleep shall neither night nor day

Hang upon his penthouse lid' (1.3.14-20).

The witches avoid using the iambic pentameter associated with blank verse. This sets them apart from the nobles in the play. Shakespeare wanted the audience to automatically notice the difference between the witches and the other characters. Laid alongside the nobles' blank verse, the witches' speech patterns feel slightly off, not quite matching the rhythm of the other characters' conversations. It is clear that the witches belong to a different sphere than everyone else, and this detail heightens their sense of 'otherness'.

Learn more about this topic:

The Witches in Macbeth: Quotes, Analysis & Prophecy


Chapter 4 / Lesson 7

Read about ‘’Macbeth’’’s witches, some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters. Explore the witches’ quotes and lines and see some analyses of their prophecies.

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