Why is Macduff exempt from the prophecy?

Macduff is exempt from the prophecy because was not born naturally of a woman but was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb. In other words, Macduff had a cesarean birth, and Macbeth misinterprets the prophecy.

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When Macbeth visits the Three Witches for the second time in hopes of learning more about his future, the first apparition tells him to beware of Macduff. Macbeth is thankful for the warning and confirms that he does worry about Macduff, who is currently overseas attempting to join forces with Malcolm and restore him to the throne. Macbeth then listens to the second apparition, which instructs him, "Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth" (4.1.86–88). Despite being warned about Macduff, Macbeth is filled with confidence after receiving the second prophecy and believes he is invincible. Macbeth makes the mistake of interpreting the prophecy literally, which influences to act bold and reckless. Upon hearing this prophecy, Macbeth is convinced that he cannot be defeated or dethroned by anyone.

In the final battle, Macbeth comes face-to-face with Macduff and tries to avoid conflict by reiterating the second prophecy. Macbeth informs Macduff that he bears a "charmèd life, which must not yield / To one of woman born" (5.8.15–16). However, Macduff responds by stating that he was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb. Macduff is exempt from the prophecy because he was not born naturally of a woman and had a cesarean birth. Macbeth is stunned and disheartened by this news and immediately recognizes that he has been deceived by the witches. Macduff proceeds to decapitate Macbeth and restores Malcolm to his rightful throne.

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