Are the witches in Macbeth real?
Yes. Macbeth really does see the three Witches in the play. Banquo also sees them and speaks with them. Initially, Banquo questions the Witches about whether they are real or possibly a hallucination he and Macbeth both share, but throughout the rest of the play both men seem to accept the Witches as physical beings. Later in the play, the Witches appear with their Queen, Hecate, in a scene without any human characters. If Macbeth had been hallucinating the Witches, he would need to be onstage for them to be seen. He is not, which is more proof that in the world of this play, they are real.
We can also contrast the treatment of the Witches to Banquo’s ghost. When Macbeth claims he sees the ghost, Lady Macbeth insists she doesn’t see anything, telling Macbeth “When all’s done/ You look but on a stool.” (3.4.) In the play, both Macbeth and his wife have hallucinations which they alone see, but the Witches are clearly visible to more than just Macbeth.
Did Macbeth always want to be king?
The audience sees Macbeth for the first time just moments before he and Banquo encounter the Witches. Thus, there’s not much time for the audience to learn anything about Macbeth before the Witches’ prophesy. However, immediately upon hearing that he will be king, Macbeth seems to have a strong reaction, causing Banquo to say “Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear/ Things that do sound so fair?” (1.3.) Macbeth’s reaction suggests he has powerful feelings about the prospect of being king. Similarly, when Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth telling of the prophecies for his future, she immediately begins to plot to kill Duncan and take the throne, suggesting that Lady Macbeth has also always dreamed of being queen.
Why does Macbeth think the Witches want to help him?
When Malcom reveals that he was taken from his mother’s womb – or, in other words, delivered via Cesarean section – Macbeth finally understands that the Witches’ prophecies meant his downfall, not his elevation. Up to the end of the play, Macbeth has confused the fact that the Witches’ predictions always came true with the idea that their predictions were helpful to him. Everything the Witches predict does come true, but everything that happens ends up hurting Macbeth as well. He does become Thane of Cawdor, but that feeds his ambition so he kills Duncan. He becomes the king, but as a result kills many people, including his best friend.
When Macbeth hears the Witches’ final prediction, he is tormented by the vision of Banquo’s children ruling instead of him, but he still doesn’t understand that the Witches are not on his side. He sees their predictions that he can’t be defeated until Birnam Wood moves and that he can’t be killed except by a man not born of a woman as proof that he is protected. He is very wrong.
Does Lady Macbeth commit suicide?
Shakespeare leaves the exact nature of Lady Macbeth’s death ambiguous. When Macbeth is told that his wife has died, no details are given and he does not ask for them. Instead, he talks about how futile and pointless life is. At the end of the play, Malcolm tells the noblemen that “’tis thought, by self and violent hands” the Queen killed herself, but the inclusion of the word “thought” implies her suicide is a rumor. Suicide is considered a mortal sin by the Roman Catholic Church, and thus frowned upon throughout England. According to church law, if Lady Macbeth killed herself, she would be eternally damned. Yet the question is never fully answered.
How did Birnam Wood move and why was Macduff able to kill Macbeth?
When Malcolm, Macduff, Siward and the other nobles are planning to attack Macbeth’s castle and overthrow him, in Act V, scene 4, they are in Birnam Wood, across the fields. Malcolm orders the soldiers to break off boughs from a tree in the Wood and hold the boughs in front of them as they march toward Macbeth. He says that doing so will conceal their true numbers from those watching for Macbeth, who will not be able to report an accurate count to the king. From Macbeth’s perspective, many yards away, it does look like the Wood itself is moving when the men do this.
Although the Witches tell Macbeth he cannot be killed by a man “of woman born,” Macduff reveals to Macbeth that he was delivered by what we call a Cesarean section, cut out of his mother’s body instead of being born in the more usual manner. Thus, Macduff fulfills the Witches’ prediction that a man not born of a woman is the only person who can kill Macbeth.
What convinces Macbeth that the Witches’ prophecy is true?
Macbeth becomes convinced that the Witches’ prophecy is true when Duncan names him Thane of Cawdor, which the Witches prophesied would happen. When the three Witches first approach Macbeth, they acknowledge Macbeth as Thane of Glamis (his current title) as well as Thane of Cawdor. This puzzles Macbeth since he can’t figure out how he is both. Shortly after, Ross delivers the news that the king has given Macbeth the new title of Thane of Cawdor, since the previous Thane of Cawdor has been executed for treason. This unexpected event causes Macbeth to become convinced that the Witches were telling the truth.
Why does Banquo not trust the Witches?
Banquo is skeptical of the Witches’ intentions and remains unconvinced of the Witches’ prophecy. Banquo warns Macbeth that “instruments of darkness” often tell half-truths “to win us to our harm” (1.3.125–126). While the Witches have prophesied great futures for both Macbeth and Banquo, Banquo is less inspired and intrigued than Macbeth and would rather leave the matter safely alone.
Why does Macbeth believe he needs to kill King Duncan?
Macbeth believes he needs to kill King Duncan because he sees the king’s son, Malcolm, as a threat to the throne. Macbeth has already felt confused about whether he needs to leave the Witches’ prophecy in the hands of fate or do some “dark” deeds to help their prophecies along. However, when Macbeth hears Duncan declare his intention to make Malcolm his heir, Macbeth becomes convinced he needs to take matters into his own hands and kill King Duncan himself.
How does Lady Macbeth persuade Macbeth to kill King Duncan?
Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to kill King Duncan by preying on his sense of manhood and courage. When Macbeth reveals that he has had a change of heart and is no longer willing to kill King Duncan, Lady Macbeth becomes enraged. She openly questions whether he is a man who is willing to act on his desires, asking, “Art thou afeard / To be in the same in thine own act and valor / As thou art in desire?” (1.7.39–41), and further calls his manhood into question by stating, “When you durst do it, then you were a man” (1.7.49). Lady Macbeth’s tactics work: Even though Macbeth is disgusted by his wife’s ruthlessness, he resolves to kill Duncan.
Why does Macbeth kill King Duncan’s two chamberlains?
While Macbeth’s motive is unclear, it is suggested that Macbeth kills King Duncan’s two chamberlains in an act of fear and horror. Lady Macbeth’s original plan is to get King Duncan’s chamberlains so drunk that they pass out and then frame them for King Duncan’s murder by having Macbeth leave two bloody daggers in their hands. The plan goes well until Macbeth fails to leave the bloody daggers by the drunken men. In a confused manner, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he thought he heard the chamberlains say, “God bless us!” in their drunken sleep as if they saw him, but it’s not clear whether this is true. Macbeth is notably rattled and has ostensibly murdered the chamberlains out of fear of being caught and in horror for what he has chosen to be a part of.
Why do King Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee to England after their father is murdered?
Malcolm and Donalbain flee from Scotland to England after their father’s murder because they are afraid that whoever killed their father will kill them next. While such a move would seem logical given the circumstances, some view it differently. Some characters view their escape as a symptom of guilt and wonder if Malcolm and Donalbain are actually the murderers.
Why does Macbeth kill Banquo?
Macbeth kills Banquo because he sees Banquo as another threat to the throne. In the Witches’ original prophecy, they proclaim that Macbeth will be king but that Banquo’s son and descendants will be the future kings, while Banquo will never be king himself. Macbeth, never fully understanding how the prophecy would manifest, once again takes matters into his own hands. Even though Banquo is his close comrade, Macbeth is now on a single-minded mission to protect himself and his position, and he kills Banquo to maintain the throne.
How does Lady Macbeth’s death affect Macbeth?
When Macbeth hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, he responds that she was eventually going to die anyway—“She should have died hereafter” (5.5.17)—just like everyone else. Macbeth then goes on to comment on the brevity of life: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage” (5.5.24–25). Macbeth might be emotionally numb at this point in the play, beyond the point of sadness or even regret, especially for a wife who has helped bring him to ruin.
What convinces Macbeth that he is invincible over Macduff’s army?
Macbeth believes that he is invincible over Macduff’s army because the Witches and the apparitions prophesied “none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” (4.1.82–83) and “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him” (4.1.96–98). Macbeth interprets such prophecies literally. He reasons that since all men are born from women and woods can’t move, he is invincible.
How does the Witches' prophecy about Banquo come true?
It can be assumed that Banquo’s son, Fleance, eventually becomes king. This assumption is based partly on the Witches’ prophecy that while Banquo would never be king, his son and descendants would be. When Macbeth sends a group of murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, Fleance escapes, and the murderers only complete half their task, leaving an open path for Banquo’s line to inherit the throne. The only king actually crowned after Macbeth in the play, however, is Malcolm, Duncan’s son.