Why were the visions in Act IV, scene 1 shown in "Macbeth"?I didn't understand about the eight kings in the vision.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV Scene I the witches are asked by Macbeth to give him more information.  He doesn’t care what the consequences of this knowledge might mean.

                “Even till destruction sicken: answer me

                 To what I ask you.”


 Macbeth decides to hear the prophecy from the witches' masters.  He is then greeted by an apparition that can read his mind and answer his question.  The witches show him several things and he begins to feel secure.  Then a vision of a line of kings is seen.  These kings are representative of the descendents of Banquo that will eventually lead to King James.  In the vision, the last king holds a mirror to make the line seem endless. So Macbeth gets his question answered about Macbeth's descendents and the witches try to cheer him up by dancing.

 “Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo.  Down!

Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs.  And thy hair,

Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first;

A third, is like the former – filthy hags.

Why do you show me this

Yet another?  A seventh?  I’ll see no more

And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass (mirror)

Which shows me many more…..”