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Macbeth's initial encounter with the witches, or Weird Sisters, occurs in Act 1, sc. 3, as he and Banquo are on their way home from battle victory. We've already heard, in Act 1, sc. 1, and at the beginning of the third scene, from the witches and we know that they are either good at foreseeing the future or they are very good judges of human nature. They tell us in the opening scene that they are going to mess with Macbeth and that appearances will be deceptive in the play. They also show us some of their powers at the opening of scene 3 in Act 1, when the second and third witch give the first witch winds in order to help her torment a sailor whose wife was rude to her. The witch also tells the other witches that she is going to cause the sailor to suffer from insomnia ("...sleep shall neither night nor day / hang upon his penthouse lid..."). This is important because when Macbeth kills Duncan he tells his wife he heard a voice say, "Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor / Shall sleep no more! Macbeth shall sleep no more!" Indeed, after the murder of Duncan, he does not sleep. The witches greet Macbeth by name and by title, "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis." This tells us, and Macbeth and Banquo, that the witches know Macbeth though he doesn't know them. It tells us that the witches have planned this meeting. Macbeth's reaction to their greetings of "Thane of Cawdor" and "King" tell us about Macbeth. He is amazed and almost angry that they are talking to him. In light of what happens later, Macbeth's initial reaction indicates that he is angry that he should be given titles he doesn't have because it reminds him he does not have those titles and he'd like to have them. Banquo's reaction is more of one who is amused by the witches and their wild prophecies. The witches vanish, "The earth hath bubbles, as the water has / And these are of them," also telling us of their power to appear and disappear at will. This initial encounter tells us a great deal about the witches and about Macbeth's personality. As soon as Ross enters and tells Macbeth that the king has named him Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth immediately thinks of how he might make the prophecy of becoming king come to light. This suggests he has dreamed of the possibility before and that he has ambition.
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