Minor Characters In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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If there are no small roles in theatre, does that mean that there are no minor characters in literature? William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, includes many minor characters, such as the porter, the Old Man, and the captain of Duncan’s army, in an attempt to enhance the story. In the beginning of the play a very valiant and loyal soldier of Scotland, called Macbeth, is given three prophecies by a group of witches. The prophecies show Macbeth that he will raise in title and someday become king. In an attempt to fulfill these prophecies, Macbeth turns to murder and deceit. In the end, Macbeth’s extreme ambition and self-confidence leads him to an untimely death at the hands of Macduff. Although some may argue that minor characters do not affect…show more content…
In Act One, the first witch explains how she will punish the husband, who is also the captain, of an annoying lady she met. The witch says, “I’ll drain him dry as hay. Sleep shall neither night nor day” (I.iii. 19-20). The first witch tells her sisters of how she is not going to let the captain sleep to torment him. The idea of insomnia can be considered a motif of Macbeth due to its appearances throughout the play. A motif is a recurring idea or object that helps the audience better understand a piece of literature. The witches cursing of the captain is an extremely important scene because now any other instance of insomnia can be directly related back to the witches. The correlation between the witches and insomnia can then help the audience detect the supernatural presence of the three Weird…show more content…
One example of this can be seen in Act One, right before the witches physically meet Macbeth for the first time, when the sisters are casting a spell. They chant, “The Weird Sisters, hand in hand, posters of the sea and land, thus do go about, about, thrice to thine and thrice to mine” (I.iii. 33-36). The witches are casting a curse over Macbeth after they learn that he is near. The witches are talking in iambic pentameter, a writing style used by Shakespeare, which makes their words sound like a rhyming chant. The quick transition into the casting of a spell shows that the witches only truly care about Macbeth, not petty revenge against a minor character. The audience can then forget about the captain of “The Tiger” because he will most likely not play a future role.The idea that the captain is unimportant can help the audience focus on the main character, Macbeth, and what is happening to him. However, Shakespeare’s inclusion of the captain of “The Tiger” helps characterize the witches in many ways. For example, part of their characterization occurs in Act One, when the three witches are talking about who they have recently tormented. The first witch says, “Here I have a pilot’s thumb, wracked as homeward he did come” (I.iii. 29-30). The witch is proudly showing off a thumb she cut off from a helmsman’s hand to her sisters. The witches’
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