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Explain the meaning of Macbeth's aside that begins, "This supernatural...

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breadline | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 23, 2010 at 7:45 AM via web

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Explain the meaning of Macbeth's aside that begins, "This supernatural soliciting/Cannot be ill;cannot be good."

In what ways does Macbeth see the prophecies as having both 'fair' and 'foul' potential?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:18 PM (Answer #1)

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The particular part to which you are referring is in Act I, Scene iii just after Macbeth's "supernatural meeting with the witches. At this point, Macbeth is trying to understand what the prophecies mean for him. He doesn't know if the intentions of the witches are to produce evil or if they are predictions of good things to come for Macbeth. He then tries to use reasoning to decide. He says the witches' prophecy that he will become Thane of Cawdor is true. That much has already happened. Macbeth feels if the witches were truthful about that one thing, then it would follow that they would be right about the rest. On the other hand, however, these prophecies have caused Macbeth to have such terrible thoughts that they make his hair stand on end. The seed of ambition and power has been implanted in Macbeth's mind, and it scares him to think what this means.

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