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In Macbeth, how do the characters describe the Witches?

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nikk1jozz | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 11, 2013 at 2:10 AM via iOS

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In Macbeth, how do the characters describe the Witches?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 11, 2013 at 2:34 AM (Answer #1)

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In Act One, Scene Three, the witches appear to Macbeth and Banquo. Banqo thinks they look unnatural or 'supernatural' and that, although they look like women, their "beards" make him unsure even of that: 

                            What are these,

So withered and so wild in their attire,

That look not like th'inhabitants o'th' earth

And yet are on't? (I.iii.37-40) 

Although the witches have given him hints of his future, Macbeth's reign has been consumed with anxiety. When he encounters them again in Act Four, he calls them "black and midnight hags." When they vanish, Macbeth asks Lennox if he had seen the weird sisters. Lennox replies that he has not. Macbeth clearly thinks they are unnatural, repeatedly calling them hags, but he continues to ask for their prophecies. He suggests, perhaps subconsciously, that he is dammed for having listened to their visions: 

Infected be the air whereon they ride,

And damned all those that trust them. (IV.ii.154-55) 

 

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