Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does each prophecy encourage a sense of false security in Macbeth? My question is about when Macbeth went to the witches the second time and was told three false prophecies , i would like to know how they encourage a sense of false security in Macbeth. Act 4 scene 1

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To answer this question, take a look at how Macbeth reacts to each of the prophecies in act IV, scene I.

When Macbeth is told to beware of Macduff, for example, he thanks for the apparition for its "good caution." In other words, the prophecy confirms his paranoia about Macduff, thereby creating a sense of security in Macbeth.

With the second prophecy, Macbeth is told that "none of woman born" can hurt him. This creates a false sense of security in Macbeth because he believes that he cannot be hurt by Macduff. However, he decides to kill Macduff anyway because it will...

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sampu88 | Student

Two specific prophecies made by the three witches instill a sense of false security and over confidence in Macbeth making him feel that he was above fear and grace and Fate itself could be challenged and defeated.
1) The apparition produced by the three witches, in the form of a bloody child, that tells Macbeth he need not fear anyone 'of woman'born'. Macbeth having takin this prediction in the literal sense, realised it was impossible for a person to be born of anything other than a woman. Had he not taken it practically and seen it in a broader light, he would have been more alert. Macduff was born of the Ceasarian cut. The apparition was reffering to Macduff in the prophecy.

2) The apparition produced by the witches in the form of a crowned child carrying a tree in his hand, tells Macbeth that he would be deafeted only when Birnam wood itself marches over physically to Dunsinane. Again, taken in the practical sense, this feat was impossible to accomplish.