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Explain the following quotes from "Macbeth": "Lesser than Macbeth, and...

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estherx3 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 1, 2008 at 9:57 PM via web

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Explain the following quotes from "Macbeth":

"Lesser than Macbeth, and greater."

"Not so happy, yet much happier."

"Thou shall begets kings, thou be none"

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reidalot | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 2, 2008 at 12:01 AM (Answer #1)

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These are the three predictions for Banquo from the three witches. First of all, he will not be King like Macbeth (lesser in rank), but he will be greater (more honorable). Next, not quite as happy (Macbeth is predicted to be King) but happier (Banquo will not dishonor himself to attain rank). Lastly, you will beget kings (your descendants will be kings) even though you will not be one!

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted October 2, 2008 at 1:10 AM (Answer #2)

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"Lesser than Macbeth, and greater."

"Not so happy, yet much happier."

"Thou shall beget kings, tho' be none"

These are the witches strange predictions of the future...

Macbeth will be greater and happier than Banquo because Macbeth will be king.

But after that Banquo will be greater and happier than Macbeth because Banquo's children will be king afterwards. Basically Banquo won't be king but he will be father to a series of kings. Macbeth will be king, but only briefly.

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suman1983 | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 4, 2008 at 2:27 AM (Answer #3)

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“Lesser than Macbeth, and greater”.

This prophecy, spoken by the first witch, means that Banquo will be “lesser” in royal ranks but will be “greater”, because he will be the father of the future kings.

“Not so happy, yet much happier”

This is spoken by the second witch who prophesizes the fact that Banquo will not be as happy as Macbeth, since he will not be the king. But simultaneously he will be much happier from another angle, since he will be the father of the future kings.

"Thou shall begets kings, thou be none."

This prophecy, spoken by the third witch, explains the how the first two prophecies will be materialised. Banquo will be the father of the future kings but he himself will not achieve the crown.

For more details see eNotes.

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jalcdlford | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 25, 2009 at 1:23 AM (Answer #4)

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Witches' prophecy for Banquo

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