Name the second set of prophecies given to Macbeth?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV, Scene One, Macbeth once again visits the witches. He is concerned because he wants his sons to succeed him, not Banquo's The witches deliver three new prophecies.

The first witch tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff:

Beware the Thane of Fife.[Macduff]

Dismiss me.
Enough. (IV,i,80).

The second promises that no man "given birth to by a woman" shall harm Macbeth. This seems like Macbeth has nothing really to fear because, he reasons, all men are born from women.

The third witch presents an ghostly image of a child wearing a crown who is holding on to a tree, The ghost promises:

Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great
Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.

( IV,i,103-105)


Macbeth replies that could never happen because no one can cause a forest to move.

However, Macbeth is still concerned about Banquo and
asks, "shall Banquo's issue ever/Reign in this kingdom?" In other words, will any of Banquo's children ever be king of Scotland? So the witches show Macbeth a line of kings. The last king holds a mirror which, in Shakespeare's day, probably reflected the image of James I, who traced his ancestry through Banquo. Today, the image usually reflects the face of Banquo.

The witches then disappear as Lennox enters the room to tell Macbeth that Macduff has fled to England and Macbeth announces plans to kill Macduff's family.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act 4, scene 1, Macbeth visits the witches to gain additional insight into his future. The Three Witches proceed to conjure three apparitions that enigmatically portray Macbeth's fate. The first apparition appears to be a head wearing a helmet, which tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff. The second apparition appears as a bloody child, who tells Macbeth to be "bloody, bold, and resolute." The apparition then tells Macbeth that he has no reason to fear anyone because no one born of a woman will ever harm him. The third apparition appears to be a child wearing a crown and holding a small tree. The apparition proceeds to tell Macbeth to be as brave as a lion because he will never be defeated until Birnam Wood marches to fight him at Dunsinane Hill. After viewing the three apparitions, Macbeth is satisfied and becomes overconfident in his ability to defeat any person attempting to threaten his throne.

Macbeth then goes on to inquire about the possibility of Banquo's sons inheriting his throne, and the Three Witches reveal an apparition depicting eight kings marching in a procession followed by Banquo's ghost. The last king is also holding a mirror, which depicts even more kings. After realizing that Banquo's descendants will inevitably inherit his throne, Macbeth becomes more determined to defend his position as king.

Read the study guide:
Macbeth

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