Contrasting Macbeth's Two Meetings with the Witches

Topics: Macbeth, Macbeth of Scotland, Three Witches Pages: 4 (1230 words) Published: October 8, 1999
In Shakespeare's Macbeth there are two instances in which Macbeth comes into contact with the three witches. These two instances are located in Act 1 Scene 3 and in Act 4 Scene 1. In both scenes Macbeth is informed about his future. However, these two scenes are greatly different from each other in many ways.

When Macbeth first meets the witches in Act 1 Scene 3 he doubts that the witches are "of this earth" and doubts that they are capable of basic abilities such as speech, evidenced by the question, "Speak, if you can, what are you?" In the second confrontation with the witches, Macbeth believes that the witches are real and thinks them to almost be superior. He shows this by attributing the witches with awesome powers when he says to the witches, "Though you untie the winds and let them fight against the churches", meaning that he believes the witches are capable of manipulation of these natural phenomenon. In addition, he asks Lennox if he had seen the witches leave, showing his belief that the witches are, in fact, real entities that exist in his world.

In addition, when Macbeth first meets the witches, he does not believe the prophecies given to him by the witches. This is best said as, "and to be king stands not within the prospect of belief, no more than to be Cawdor". This exemplifies Macbeth's disbelief in the prophecies that he is to become the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Scotland. In the second meeting, however, Macbeth devoutly believes in the predictions of the witches, as the first set has come true. This is evident as Macbeth seeks the witches' prophecies and also says, "I conjure you, by that which you profess, howe'er you come to know it, answer me…", showing that he believes the witches regardless of how they know the future.

The predictions themselves have great differences. In the first meeting, the witches tell Macbeth three things that will be his rise to power. The three prophecies that forecast...
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