What do the three witches predict for Macbeth and Banquo?

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

And to add to the above, of course there are the later predictions given to only Macbeth in Act 4, scene 1. They show him three apparitions and a vision. They promise him things as they did before, but this time the promises are not all as direct. They are riddles or half truths and not so easy to figure out by the literal minded Macbeth:


Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware


Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.


Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to


The power of man, for none of woman born

Shall harm Macbeth.


Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care

Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:

Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until

Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill

Shall come against him.

The first prediction, told to him by a head in armor, is literally true: Macbeth should beware of Macduff (he will kill Macbeth in the end).

Second: a bloody baby tells Macbeth that he cannot be killed by anyone who was born of a woman. This is the riddle of the Caesarian child (Macduff). It's a trick meant to mislead Macbeth.

The third apparition is a young King with a branch in his hand who tells Macbeth he can't be defeated unless the forest that surrounds his castle comes up to the castle. This is another riddle, for the branches of the trees of the forest are used as camouflage, and the men are led on by the future king, Malcolm. Macbeth understands this one only when it's too late.

One final vision is "A show of eight Kings, and Banquo last with a glass in his hand." This suggests to Macbeth that generations of Banquo's offspring will all be kings.

Each of these visions, literally or figuratively as they may have been presented, will come true.

Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first witch greets Macbeth as the thane of Glamis, which was his official title.  The second witch, however, says

All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

The third then says

All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

These two predictions are a shock to Macbeth.  He does not know that the current thane of Cawdor has been deemed a traitor and Duncan has ordered his title be given to Macbeth.  When Banquo hears these predictions, he asks the witches to speak of his future as well, to which the third witch says

Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

This prediction is what eventaully leads to Macbeth's plot to kill both Banquo and Banquo's son. 

hiralpandya | Student

when they meet macbeth and banquo

 for macbeth his already thane of Glamis and they sat he will be thane of Cawdor and then king and for banquo he will not be happy but happier lesser than macbeth but greater and his children will be king but not him

suvini | Student

talk about the arnoured head

talks about the bloody child


and also finally the baby holding a tree


suvini | Student

thats true but we can also take the three apparitions into consideration


suvini | Student