What vision upsets Macbeth the most?

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The visions you’re referring to are those that are given to Macbeth by the three witches in Act IV. Following the prophecy the witches gave him at the beginning of the play, Macbeth is anxious to know what the conclusion will be, given that his wife has been having second...

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The visions you’re referring to are those that are given to Macbeth by the three witches in Act IV. Following the prophecy the witches gave him at the beginning of the play, Macbeth is anxious to know what the conclusion will be, given that his wife has been having second thoughts. He seeks them out to “answer me / To what I ask you.” They respond by providing three speakers from their cauldron, and Macbeth sees their messages as a boon to his cause. He is told to beware the Thane of Fife (Macduff), that none of woman born shall harm him, and that he will not be defeated until Birnam Wood marches to high Dusninane Hill.

Assuming these are all good tidings, and interpreting his victory as sure, Macbeth is in high spirits until the end of his meeting with the three hags: a line of kings, with the ghost of Banquo following. Macbeth is clearly appalled at the vision, for it serves to bolster the witches’ original prophecy for Banquo from Act I: “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” After Macbeth’s short reign, the witches are affirming that it will be Banquo’s heirs and not Macbeth’s that will become the rulers of Scotland.

As Macbeth has no children, and Banquo’s son Fleance is in hiding somewhere in the wilderness of Scotland, Macbeth knows that this is the vision that is most likely to come true. Little does he know, the witches have told no lies, and he should be equally afraid of the three earlier prophecies as well!

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Arguably, in act 4, scene 1, the vision which upsets Macbeth the most is the final one in which he sees a long line of Banquo's sons who are all kings of Scotland. This is shown clearly by Macbeth's physical and emotional reactions. As he watches Banquo's sons walk by, for example, Macbeth talks about how this vision "sears" his eyeballs.

In addition, Macbeth verbally attacks the witches for showing him such a vision:

Filthy hags!

Why do you show me this?

Watching this vision is so painful to Macbeth that he shouts, "I'll see no more" and calls it a "horrible sight."

What this shows is that, for Macbeth, the thought of losing his crown to Banquo's son is the one thing he fears the most at this point. As you will remember, Fleance escapes Macbeth's henchmen earlier in the play, meaning that there is a possibility that this vision could come true.

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