What do these quotes mean?When the battle’s lost, and won 1.1.4 Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air. 1.1. 12  

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is eNotes' policy to answer only one question per posting. Your question would seem to require about sixteen separate answers. Your best bet if you want all these quotes explicated would be to submit each of them as an individual question. It would take longer to get answers from the expert educators, but each answer would be more comprehensive.

I will offer a couple of answers to quotes I find interesting.

"When the battle's lost and won." Obviously if one side wins the battle, the other side has to lose. The witch who says this seems to be completely indifferent to the lives of humans. She doesn't care who wins and who loses. She also seems to be reflecting on the futility of human endeavors.

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair." This statement has been analyzed so often and so thoroughly that it seems almost worn out with wear. The witches are obviously foul. This seems to make them prefer what is foul to what is fair. They hate whatever is good and beautiful, and they seek to destroy it. (See for example the First Witch's plans to harm the young woman and her sea-captain husband in the first part of Act 1, Scene 3.) Foul people in real life tend to cling together because they find each other attractive. Birds of a feather flock together. This might explain why the withces form their own little clique. In Shakespeare's King Lear, Albany says to his wife Goneril, whom he has come to hate for her cruelty and treachery:

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
Filths savor but themselves.


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harry7459 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

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What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won. 1.2.68
The theme of winning and losing is shown here again, where what ‘he hath lost’ Macbeth had won.

The weird sisters 1.3.30
The weird sisters refer to the three sisters , they also go by the names forces of evil and instruments of darkness

You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so 1.3.43
Banquo is confused by the witches as they have beards, and resemble men but they ‘should be women’. This shows the appearance of the witches, they looked a female with beards.

All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis
All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor
All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter 1.3.49
This is when the witches start to prophesise Macbeth future, Macbeth is already thane of Glamis, and the witches telling him his going to be thane of Cawdor plants the idea in his mind, which will lead him to become the than of Cawdor.


Lesser that Macbeth, and greater
No so happy, yet much happier
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none 1.3.63
The witches start to predict Banquos future and say that his kids will be king.

He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor… The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me in borrow’d robes? 1.3.103
Duncan tells Ross to call Macbeth King, but Ross is confused why Macebeth dresses in robes if he is such a ‘king’  

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths 1.3.124 ….
This supernatural soliciting, Cannot be ill, cannot be good 1.3.129
The witches are referred to as the instruments of darkness, and they predict the future to create harm says Banquo. Macbeth says that the witches gathering cannot be a good thing.

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harry7459 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

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Macbeth quotes 1

When the battle’s lost, and won 1.1.4
The quote refers to the war that King Duncan had won. The quote said by the second witch displays the theme ‘winning and losing’, by saying that the war is won and lost. This also shows the gloomy way the witches talk.  

Fair is foul, and foul is fair,
Hover through the fog and filthy air. 1.1. 12
‘Fog’  and ‘filthy air’  describe where the witches come from, the way they make it rhyme and create a gloomy atmosphere, shows that the witches are related to the devil and possess evil powers.

For Brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name disdaining Fortune, with his brainsih’d steel, which smok’d with bloody execution. 1.2.14
Macbeth is describe as ‘brave Macbeth’ because of the way he fought in the war. He is considered the servant of courage. His fierceness in the battle field, cutting up enemy’s, displayed his bravery and that is why Captain calls Macbeth ‘ brave Macebeth’.

O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman 1.2.25
King Duncan is praising Macbeth for his amazing efforts in the war, by calling him ‘valiant cousins’  shows he is in close association with King Duncan and by calling him a worthy gentlemen, Duncan is saying he is a noble warrior.  

Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the lion 1.2.35
The captain is comparing noble, fierce, strong and loyal animals to resemble Macbeth.  

Bellona’s bridegroom 1.2.55
Bellona’s bridegroom is the god of war, Ross compares Macbeth to the god of war, this shows what importance Macbeth was in the war.

The Norways’ king, craves composition. 1.2.59
Sweno , the king of Norway, wants to stop the war, and create peace.

Go pronounce his present death and with his former title greet Macbeth. 1.2.65
Duncan is ordering the death of the thane of Cawdor immediately, and, he wishes to give that title to Macbeth.

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