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What is one example of foreshadowing in the play Macbeth, and what is its significance...

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abigailstanley | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM via web

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What is one example of foreshadowing in the play Macbeth, and what is its significance to the play as a whole?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 4, 2011 at 4:24 AM (Answer #1)

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There are many examples of foreshadowing in Macbeth. The witches' prophecy, the bloody battle in Act I, and the murder of Duncan and its link to sleeplessness.

To answer your question, perhaps one of the most important examples of foreshadowing happens during the murder of Duncan.  When Macbeth murders Duncan, he hears:

There's one did laugh in 's sleep, and the other one cried 'Murder!'

This can be looked at as foreshadowing of Macbeth's upcoming problem with sleep.  Macbeth even mentions to Lady Macbeth:

Macbeth will sleep no more.

Macbeth knows that what he has done is wrong, that the murder of Duncan will affect him in some way, and that he has already begun to slip mentally. In the end, it is the murder of Duncan that leads to Macbeth's inevitable slip into insanity and insomnia.

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