Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What do the witches predict in act 3 for Macbeth and for Banquo?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The witches reappear in Act III, scene five, in which Hecate, the leader of the witches, berates the Weird Sisters for prophesying to Macbeth. She tells them they should not help mortal men, because it doesn't win them any appreciation or favor.

Here, they make no predictions for Banquo, as he is dead, and no specific predictions for Macbeth. Instead, Hecate instructs them that Macbeth will reappear to them at the pit of Acheron, wanting to find out his "destiny." She tells them that they should misdirect him and that she will use her magical powers to raise up illusions that will confuse Macbeth.

Hecate says that because of what the witches say and show Macbeth, he will believe he is invincible. She says he will be in the dangerous position of feeling secure, stating:

And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy.
If, however, you are talking about the prophecies in Act I, the witches predict Macbeth will become thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland and that Banquo's descendants will also become Scottish kings.

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luannw eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are no predictions made by the witches in Act 3.  The witches appear in the Act 1 and in Act 4.  Banquo is killed in scene 3 of Act 3 and at the end of the act, Macbeth says he is going to see the witches again because after seeing Banquo's ghost and noting that Macduff didn't come to his banquet, he is paranoid.  In Act 4, when Macbeth sees the witches again, they show him apparitions that tell him to beware of Macduff, that no man born of woman can harm him, and that he will not be defeated until Birnam Woods advances to Dunsinane.  The final vision shown to Macbeth is a series of kings, each resembling Banquo, showing that Banquo will be the father to a line of kings.  The last vision is a reaffirmation of what the witches predicted in Act 1, sc. 3 when they told Banquo he would not be a king but he would be the father to kings.

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