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How did the prophecy of the witches affect Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth?

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mishi979 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 19, 2011 at 9:39 PM via web

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How did the prophecy of the witches affect Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth?

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howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted May 19, 2011 at 9:59 PM (Answer #1)

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The witches' prophecies served to spur Macbeth's ambition, the driving force of the conflict in the play. When Macbeth initially meets the witches, they tell him he will be Thane of Cawdor and King. Macbeth dismisses this at first, but once he becomes Thane of Cawdor, he takes stake in what the witches say for the remainder of the play. Had the witches not propheseyed Macbeth being king, the thought would likely not have entered his mind. The witches also plant conflict between Macbeth and Banquo, driving Macbeth to have Banquo killed, thus increasing his guilt and mental instability. In the witches' final prophecies, they make Macbeth feel invincible, leading him to believe that he cannot be overthrown despite plots against him.

The "Macbeth Summary" portion of the link below touches briefly on this topic as well.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:23 AM (Answer #2)

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This question has already been answered numerous times on eNotes.  Here is a comprehensive list to get you started:  http://www.enotes.com/macbeth/q-and-a/tags/prophecies

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