In Macbeth, how does Macbeth respond when one of the witches' prophesies comes true? And how does he respond when he learns Malcolm is to be the heir? Quotes from the play would also be helpful

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troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is shocked when he is addressed by "Thane of Cawdor" because there is already a man of that title.  However, when it's explained to him, he is rather excited.  In fact, he realizes that becoming king is next and will be his greatest opportunity. He replies to the explanation of his new title,

[Aside] "Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind."

He seems excited to receive the title of king next.

Then when King Duncan mentions that Malcolm will become king next, he is furious.  He says in an aside that he will do whatever necessary to take the crown from Malcolm.  He doesn't even want the starts to see what he might have to do, but he's willing to kill for that crown. He says,

"The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see."

These two quotes are from Act I, scenes 3 and 4 respectviely.