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Who was "not born of woman" in "Macbeth" and why?

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heatherizons | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 28, 2009 at 9:37 AM via web

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Who was "not born of woman" in "Macbeth" and why?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2009 at 9:53 AM (Answer #1)

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Macduff was not born of woman - he was delivered by Caesarean section.

The witches tell Macbeth that no man born of woman can harm him.  Sounds pretty good - all men are born of women, right?  All men, all people, came from a woman.

However, the term "born" literally refers to the process of going through the birth canal.  Macbeth believes he is safe, until he meets Macduff, who the witches told him to watch out for.  Macduff proves that it is possible for man not to be born of woman:

Macduff: Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb Untimely ripp'd

In other words, he was pulled directly from his mother's stomach, not "birthed" or "born". 

This is the final example of how Macbeth has misinterpreted events, twisting what he has heard to suit his own purpose - but in the end, his misperception has sealed his downfall.

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