How does Shakespeare's use of prophecies and visions foreshadow events in Macbeth? The witches 1st set of prophecies (act 1, scene 3) The witches 2nd set of prophecies (act 4, scene 1)...

How does Shakespeare's use of prophecies and visions foreshadow events in Macbeth?

  • The witches 1st set of prophecies (act 1, scene 3)
  • The witches 2nd set of prophecies (act 4, scene 1)
  • Macbeth's hallucinations - Banquo's ghost (act 3, scene 4)
  • Macbeth's hallucinations - dagger (act 2, scene 1) or Lady Macbeth sleepwalking (act 5, scene 1)

 

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act 1, scene 3: After the Three Witches tell Macbeth that he will be Thane of Cawdor and future king, Ross informs Macbeth that he has just been awarded the title Thane of Cawdor. This intrigue foreshadows Macbeth's decision to kill King Duncan. Banquo's cautious statement foreshadows the fact that the witches' prophecies will lead to their destruction.

Act 2, scene 1: Macbeth's hallucination of a dagger foreshadows his evil deed as he enters King Duncan's chamber to commit regicide. In the following scene, Macbeth returns from Duncan's chamber carrying the bloody daggers in his hands.

Act 3, scene 4: Macbeth hallucinating and seeing Banquo's ghost foreshadows the decline of his mental state and sanity. It also foreshadows the fact that Banquo's prophecy will come true, and his descendants will eventually rule as kings.

Act four, scene 1: On Macbeth's final visit to the witches, he is presented with three prophecies, which hints at his demise due to excessive confidence. He is initially told to fear Macduff. Then he is told he has no one to fear that is born of a woman. The second prophecy is enigmatic in nature and foreshadows Macduff's circumstance. The third prophecy concerns Birnam Wood marching to Dunsinane Hill and foreshadows Malcolm's army camouflaging themselves as they travel to fight Macbeth in the final battle.