What is the significance of the second apparition, 'a bloody child' ?

2 Answers | Add Yours

cybil's profile pic

cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The bloody child tells Macbeth, "No man born of woman shall harm Macbeth." This prophecy comforts Macbeth despite the first apparition's telling him to beware Macduff. The witches are equivocating here, as Macbeth discovers in Act  5, scene 8. The bloody child's statement has a double meaning.

Macbeth tells Macduff, "I bear a charm'd life"; no one can kill him. To his shock, Macduff declares he was from his "mother's womb untimely ripp'd." Macduff was not born in the normal way; rather, he was born by Caesarean section: his mother's abdomen was cut open and the baby was removed from her body. Therefore, Macduff will be able to kill Macbeth.

At first Macbeth refuses to fight Macduff, but when Macduff threatens to humiliate Macbeth by parading him so that the "rabble" can taunt and curse him, Macbeth chooses to fight to the death.

kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The 'bloody child' is the second of the three apparations conjured up for Macbeth in act 4 sc.1. The apparition instils in Macbeth a stubbornness and a false sense of security by artful equivocation:

"Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn

The power of man, for none of woman born

Shall harm Macbeth".

The 'bloody child' the infant Macduff as he looked, when cut out of the bleeding womb of its mother, and covered with blood. Earlier, the first apparition, 'an armed Head', warned Macbeth against the possible threat posed by Macduff. Macbeth found his own fear concerning Macduff echoed by the first Apparition. But Macbeth is unable to read into the equivocation of the second Apparition. Macbeth draws a simplistic conclusion that he is invincible, never to die in the hands of a man.

However, the mystery is unveiled when Macduff tells Macbeth how he was 'from his mother's womb/Untimely ripped'. Macbeth could understand that he has been deceived--'..be these juggling fiends no more believ'd'. Macduff was the man destined to overpower him.

We’ve answered 320,048 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question