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The witches predictions foreshadow future events and also present a stance with the fate vs. free will debate. While the witches cannot force Macbeth or Banquo to do anything, they can manipulate their beliefs, thus indirectly influencing their actions.
As stated in the Enotes summary section of Macbeth, the witches specifically say that Banquo "will be lesser and greater than Macbeth; even though he will never be king, his sons will." Banquo is perplexed by this at first and then considers it more deeply once he sees one of Macbeth's prophecies come true. Because his sons are not directly in line for throne, conisder the different scenarios in which this prophecy would come true in order to interpret the above quote.
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