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In Act IV, scene i with the witches, what do "blaspheming" and...

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jak | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 27, 2007 at 2:06 PM via web

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In Act IV, scene i with the witches, what do "blaspheming" and "chaudron" mean?

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rowens | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 7, 2007 at 7:48 PM (Answer #2)

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I think you are referring to the passage below:

THIRD WITCH.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangl'd babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,--
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

Because Shakespeare's language is so archaic, it is sometimes difficult to understand. Fortunately, Enotes has side-by-side etexts for many of Shakespeare's plays. They show both the original and a modern translation of the play.
Below is the translation for the lines you were unsure of:

THIRD WITCH.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, a gulf-like stomach,
Of the rough sea salt glisten,
Root of poison hemlock dug up in the dark,
Liver of Christians not baptized,
Gall bladder of goat, and slips of pine trees
Cut off the tree when the moon eclipsed,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of a baby born dead
Delivered in a ditch by a prostitute,
Make the gruel thick and gooey.
Also add a tiger's guts,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

You can see the rest of the text at the link below:

Sources:

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 16, 2007 at 11:20 AM (Answer #4)

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"Blaspheming" means to speak profanely to or of God or sacred things.  My understanding of that phrase, "liver of blaspheming Jew," is that the witches are including the liver of a Jew - it would have been characteristic in Shakespeare's day to call Jews blasphemers because they rejected Christ as the Savior and Son of God.

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revolution | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted July 21, 2009 at 8:55 PM (Answer #5)

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"Blaspheming" means Jews who scolded vulgarities and speak crudely without any manners that would hurt people, to speak in a profane language that is not nice but very rude.

"Chaudron" means guts of the Jews. Why do Shakespere called them Chaudron? it is because they had not respected the Lord Our God and had rebelled against his awmighty power and strength

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