In Macbeth, why is Macbeth's entrance prefaced with this line of the witches'? "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." How is Scotalnd under disorder after Macbeth's regime?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Macbeth is the "something wicked" to which the witch is referring.  By calling him "something" rather than "someone", the witch is demeaning Macbeth from a human down to a mere thing.  Humans have souls and consciences; Macbeth does not appear to have either, so he is like a thing.  Witches...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Macbeth is the "something wicked" to which the witch is referring.  By calling him "something" rather than "someone", the witch is demeaning Macbeth from a human down to a mere thing.  Humans have souls and consciences; Macbeth does not appear to have either, so he is like a thing.  Witches were considered evil, or wicket, and these witches certainly filled that role.  Prior to Macbeth's approach, the witches are filling their cauldron with all sorts of gruesome ingredients which adds to their wicked appearance.  The witch in referring to Macbeth as "wicked", indicates that even to her, in all her own wickedness, Macbeth is even more so.  This shows the audience that Macbeth is truly at his peak of evil intent.

According to some small conversations in the play, notably, act 3, sc. 6, and act 4, sc. 3, Macbeth is a tyrannical king ruling with no compassion for his people.  He is paranoid and that comes out as making unjust decisions on matters.  In the real history of Scotland, Macbeth was actually a pretty good king, however. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team