What do Glamis and Cawdor mean in Macbeth?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Original question has been edited down to a single question (per eNotes policy).

In Act I, scene three, the witches' wait for Banquo and Macbeth in order to make their cunning predictions concerning the two men. When Macbeth approaches, three different witches address him by three distinct titles: Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and "Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!" (I.iii.52)

Of course, these are titles that represent a feudal position in King Duncan's kingdom.  A 'thane' is another word for a high ranking nobleman like a Baron.  Macbeth is already Thane of Glamis, but when the witches also name him as being Thane of Cawdor. 

Glamis and Cawdor are both villages in Scotland, tied to the surrounding lands, each with a castle for defense and protection.  In the feudal system, the king appointed loyal men (lord, barons, or in this case 'thanes') to be in charge of certain sections of the kingdom.  Glamis and Cawdor are names of two of these sections.  Of the two, the reader can conclude that Cawdor is a promotion, because the previous Thane of Cawdor was very wealthy.

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bigmama97 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

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thanes are soldiers who are awarded with land by the king because of their work or credits. so in this case, the thane now own the land and in those days, glamis, cawdor, fife was just names of a part of england.

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