|“||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. That will be ere the set of Sun. Where the place? Upon the Heath. There to meet with... Macbeth.||„|
|~ The Wyrd Sisters in the opening verses of Macbeth.|
|“||Hubble bubble, toil and trouble... fire burn, and cauldron bubble!||„|
|~ The Wyrd Sisters' most famous quote.|
The Wyrd Sisters are frightening archetypes of Medieval witches and the overarching antagonists of the classic Shakespeare play Macbeth. They are portrayed by various actors in film/theatrical adaptations. In the play, they are seen as master manipulators of history itself, and it's possible they were modeled on the Fates of Greek folklore.
The Witches seek to overthrow the kingdom of Scotland and they use dark magic for their nefarious deeds. The Wyrd Sisters like toying with humans and they see humanity as just useful tools that they can manipulate.
The Wyrd Sisters make a dramatic and frightening entrance in the opening of Macbeth where they talk about their prophecy concerning Macbeth, a general in King Duncan's army, and their desire to make his coronation possible.
Macbeth and his friend Banquo win the battle for Duncan, and then shortly afterwards, they meet the Wyrd Sisters, who Macbeth is strangely drawn to. The Wyrd Sisters tell Macbeth that he one day be King of Scotland, and "Thane of Cawdor", which stuns him because he previously had no such ambitions. Macbeth and Banquo laugh off the Wyrd Sisters' prophecy as insane ramblings, specially as the Sisters tell Banquo he "will bear kings, though thou thyself be none." The Wyrd Sisters then suddenly vanish, displaying their supernatural powers, and unnerving Macbeth and Banquo.
With help from his wife Lady Macbeth, Macbeth puts his plan into action, spurred on by her desire for him to be King. He swiftly kills King Duncan after a feast and he pins the blame on his guards. Macbeth then discreetly has assassins kill Banquo and his son Fleance to prevent their line from stealing Macbeth's legacy. This fails, however, as Fleance survives the attack.
After seeing Banquo's ghost, Macbeth fears for his future and he visits the Wyrd Sisters again. The Sisters make a dark potion for him out of blood and other disgusting matter, and this gives Macbeth visions, which consist of a ghost telling him that "King thou shalt e'er be, unless the great forest of Birnham Wood come up against thee!" Macbeth, being a skeptic at heart, derides this: "That shalt never be, who can impress the forest, unbind the tree, unfix his earth-bound root!?!"
As the play reveals, the Wyrd Sisters prophesied Macbeth's eventual doom. Lady Macbeth kills herself due to her guilt. He kills Macduff's family because he fears their threat, and then Macbeth is challenged by Macduff himself, whose army approaches Macbeth's castle in guise of Birnham Wood, and fights and Macduff kills Macbeth.
In most film versions of Macbeth, the Wyrd Sisters make a final appearance at the end, where either Macduff or Siward visits them concerning his own rise to power.
Perhaps deliberately, little to nothing is known of the true nature of the Wyrd Sisters. Such an enigmatic nature makes them even more frightening and makes them a looming shadowy threat which all Kings of Scotland must deal with. Many are driven to madness by the Sisters' prophecies, which makes them even more formidable. They seem to use psychological abuse as their main power, and even Shakespeare himself makes it unclear whether their paranormal nature is mind trickery or real magic.
Powers and Abilities
The Wyrd Sisters possess numerous dark powers, including:
- Dark magic
- Psychological torture
- Scrying (they can see far into the future)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Comedy of Errors
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing
Measure for Measure