In act 4, scene 1 of Macbeth, what four things do the witches show Macbeth, and what does each say?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV, Scene I, the witches show Macbeth the following three things:

  1. An "armed" head (wearing a battle helmet), which tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff.
  2. A "bloody child" who tells Macbeth that he should be fearless because "no man of woman born" can ever harm him.
  3. A child with a crown on his head and a tree in his hand appears next. He tells Macbeth to be brave and proud like a lion because he will never be defeated until Great Birnam Wood to Dunsinane Hill marches to fight against him.

Macbeth then asks the witches a specific question about Banquo's sons. The witches tell Macbeth to not ask any more questions, but he will not be appeased until they have given him an answer. This prompts the witches to show Macbeth the fourth (and final) apparition.

Macbeth then sees a line of eight kings marching past him, of which the last of these holds a mirror in his hand. At the end of the line is the ghost of Banquo.

This is all the evidence Macbeth needs. He now realizes that Banquo's sons will indeed be kings.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The witches offer Macbeth three apparitions.

 The first apparition is that of an armed head. The message is to beware of Macduff. The second apparition is that of a bloody child that says that no man born of woman will harm Macbeth. The third apparition  is that of a crowned head holding a tree that says, “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” .

Macbeth begs them for more information about his future so they show him a procession of kings, and the last one holds a mirror with the image of Banquo in it.

sampu88 | Student

Macbeth was shown three apparitions by the Witches.

The first one was that of an 'armed head' that warned him to 'beware of the Thane of Fife! Macduff!'. The second was that of a 'bloody child' that told him to 'laugh at the powers of other men' since he had something noone else did. The child told him that no one born of a woman could ever hurt him. The third apparition was that of a crowned child holding a tree in one hand, that said Macbeth would not be defeated unless Birnam Wood comes marching to fight him at Dunsinane Hill.

On further probing regarding the future of Banquo's sceptre's as kings of Scotland, the Witches hesitatingly showed him a procession of 8 kings, the last one holding a mirror, in which were reflected several other king. The last king was also followed by the 'blood-clotted', and smiling Banquo who was 'pointing to' the kings 'as his'.