How did Banquo and Macbeth view the witches in Act 1 of Macbeth  by William Shakespeare?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the three weird sisters or witches  are initially viewed with suspicion by both Macbeth and Banquo. Both the Scotland (which was the dramatic setting of the play) and Britain of Shakespeare's time were Christian, and thus would view witchcraft as evil, and inspired by Satan. The witches, however, demonstrate that they have supernatural knowledge. Both men are initially intrigued by their prophecies and the possibility of learning useful information about the future. In Macbeth, especially, the seeds of ambition are planted and he responds by considering how he could become king himself. Banquo, on the other hand, remains skeptical, and thinks they should not trust the witches motives:

But 'tis strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.


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