By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking]
Macbeth:Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 44–49
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?
After conjuring up "double, double toil and trouble" [see p. 32], the three witches admit a visitor to their cave—King Macbeth of Scotland. "Something wicked this way comes," indeed, and they're delighted. Macbeth—at least, the wicked Macbeth—is in part their own creation. The first time around, they came looking for him, to deliver the enticing prophecy that set off the whole chain of events which has included Macbeth's regicide and subsequent bloody events. Now, Macbeth comes looking for them, and the witches summon apparitions to tell Macbeth exactly what he wants to hear: that he's invulnerable. This news is purposely ambiguous; it is calculated only to make Macbeth act more wickedly before he is finally finished off.
Themes: supernatural phenomena