The Motif of Weather

     Although William Shakespeare wrote very few stage directions in all of his plays, what little information he gives us in “Macbeth,” has more meaning. In particular, the weather plays an important role of portraying the setting of the scene as well as hinting that something unnatural is about to take place.
     The only information given to the reader about the weather is given in a few words before the scene starts. It is also interesting to note that the only type of weather that is written down in these descriptions have to do with thunder and lightning. Not once in “Macbeth” does William Shakespeare write “sunny” or “clear skies” in description before a scene. Perhaps he does this because he wanted to create a very dark and gloomy atmosphere for his play. Do to the lack of weather descriptions in the play, whenever Shakespeare actually does give a description of the weather, it puts more emphasis on the fact that it is thundering. Much like in a horror film when the scary music starts playing when the serial killer is nearby, the thunder and lightning weather descriptions in “Macbeth” give the scene a very creepy feeling and it gives the reader clues that something evil is about to happen.
     It is also interesting to note that the only weather descriptions that Shakespeare gives us occur before or during a scene in which the witches are present. For example, right before the first scene in the entire play, it says “Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches.” The thunder and lightning often times further exaggerates the idea that something unnatural is taking place. The three witches in “Macbeth” are portrayed as hideous old women who are usually mixing strange potions together with ingredients such as “Finger of birth-strangled babe,” (Act 4. Sc. 1 Ln. 30). These clues, along with the thunder and lightning, show the reader that evil and unnatural things are occurring. Furthermore, in act four scene 1 when the witches are conjuring up the three apparitions for Macbeth, before each one is introduced, the stage directions say “thunder.” This description of the weather occurs before each of the three apparitions which further explains that what the witches are doing is unnatural.
Jamie Power