Stallybrass, Peter. "Macbeth and witchcraft."
Focus on Macbeth. Ed. John Russell Brown. London: Routledge, 1982. 189-209.

Thesis: Stallybrass first states his belief that witchcraft was a "social construction from which we learn more about the accuser than the accused, more about the social institutions which tolerate/encourage/act on those accusations than about the activities of those people (in England, mainly women, mainly poor) who were persecuted as witches" (190). Stallybrass goes on to say that witchcraft accusations enforced conformity to patriarchal social norms, and that witchcraft in Macbeth is "a particular working upon and legitimation of, the hegemony of patriarchy" (190).

Some Highlights:
On King James's interest in witchcraft: "To suggest . . . that the monarchy was under demonic attack was to glorify the institution of monarchy, since that implied that it was one of the bastions protecting this world from the triumph of Satan" (191-192).

On the similarity between the witches and Lady Macbeth: "Lady Macbeth and the Witches are equated by their equivocal relation to an implied norm of femininity. Of the Witches, Banquo says:

                        You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.                      (I.iii.45-7)
And Lady Macbeth invokes the 'murd'ring ministers' (I.v.45) to unsex her" (196).

On the relationship between witchcraft and politics:"Witchcraft is associated with female rule and the overthrowing of patriarchal authority which in turn leads to the 'womanish' (both cowardly and instigated by women) killing of Duncan, the 'holy' father who establishes both family and state" (201).

Bottom Line: Interesting commentary, even though the author loses sight of the play as a tragedy.