In Shakespeare's Macbeth, act 4, scene 1, what is the first apparition, and how does it warn Macbeth?

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When Macbeth enters the scene, he demands that the Three Witches give him more information about his future, and they proceed to show him several apparitions, which are misleading and give him false confidence. The first apparition that the witches summon is a floating head with an armored helmet. According...

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When Macbeth enters the scene, he demands that the Three Witches give him more information about his future, and they proceed to show him several apparitions, which are misleading and give him false confidence. The first apparition that the witches summon is a floating head with an armored helmet. According to the witches, the armored head has the ability to read Macbeth's mind and the apparition proceeds to give Macbeth his prophecy by saying,

Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff. Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough. (4.1.72–74)

Macbeth is appreciative of the apparition's prophecy and confirms that the armored head correctly read his thoughts regarding his fear of Macduff. Macbeth is aware that Macduff is his enemy because he did not attend his coronation and there are rumors that he supports Malcolm's rightful kingship. The first prophecy in act four, scene one, will come true during the final battle when Macduff informs Macbeth that he was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb and proceeds to decapitate him.

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InMacbethby William Shakespeare, Act IV, scene 1 begins with the witches' preparation of a magic potion.  When Macbeth arrives, he wishes to find answers to the witches' prophecies, calling for them to reveal their sources: "Call 'em, let me see 'em!" (68)

The first apparition appears as an armed head, who "knows thy thought" (69).  According to the first witch, the apparition has the gift of mind-reading.  The armed head warns Macbeth "beware of Macduff, beware the thane of Fife" (78-80). 

Macbeth is thankful, but curious.  The head "has harped [Macbeth's] fear aright" (82).  His hopes of asking another question are dashed by the first witch who tells him, "he will not be commanded" (83).

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