Why is Macbeth guilty and what do the witches do ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The witches are connected to Macbeth’s guilt as they prophesized about his future, and planted a seed which lead to Macbeth’s murder of Duncan. Macbeth had been a mighty warrior, and received accolades from King Duncan. If the witches had not intervened, perhaps Macbeth would have been satisfied with his reward from Duncan who named him “Thane of Cawder”. This was one of the ways that the witches greeted Macbeth when they appeared to him and Banquo. They also called Macbeth, “Thane of Glamis”. Macbeth already held this title which is one of the reasons the witches seemed credible. Yet, it was last greeting that was the impetus for Macbeth’s murderous rampage. The third witch greeted Macbeth by saying, “All hail Macbeth. Thou shalt be king hereafter.” Later, when King Duncan bestowed the title of “Thane of Cawder”, Macbeth is further convinced that he must do whatever it takes to become king in order to fulfill the witches’ prophesies. The only way for Macbeth to become king is to kill Duncan. He, in fact, does this and becomes king; but he is riddled with guilt. His guilt manifests itself in numerous ways such as Macbeth hallucination of a “dagger”. The witches also prophesize that Banquo’s sons will become kings which directly leads to Macbeth’s involvement with the murder of Banquo. Here, Macbeth’s guilt manifests itself by the appearance of Banquo’s ghost.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial