What symbols or objects represent the three witches and have meaning for them in Macbeth?

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When the Witches first appear in act 1, scene 1 of Shakespeare's Macbeth, they're not carrying or wearing any objects or talismans. They do, however, refer to their "familiars"—evil spirits which are usually in the form of a small animal like a toad, bird, dog, or cat and serve as a witch's demonic companion or attendant.

FIRST WITCH. I come, Graymalkin.

SECOND WITCH. Paddock calls.

THIRD WITCH. Anon! (1.1.9–11)

"Graymalkin" is an affectionate term for a gray cat, and "paddock" refers to a toad.

The Third Witch doesn't identify her "familiar" until act 4, scene 1, when she calls it a "harpier," or harpy—a flying monster with the head and upper body of a woman and the tail, wings, and talons of a bird of prey.

THIRD WITCH. Harpier cries, “’Tis time, ’tis time.” (4.1.3)

The Third Witch wins the prize for most horrifying familiar.

These “familiars” symbolically help to represent the “weird sisters,” as they call themselves (1.3.33), as witches.

In act 1, scene 3, the First Witch...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1013 words.)

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