23rd March 2018

Act One, Scene Three. Machbeth

On the heath near the battlefield, thunder rolls and the three witches appear. One says that she has just come from “killing swine” and another describes the revenge she has planned upon a sailor whose wife refused to share her chestnuts. Suddenly a drum beats, and the third witch cries that Macbeth is coming. Macbeth and Banquo, on their way to the king’s court at Forres, come upon the witches and shrink in horror at the sight of the old women. Banquo asks whether they are mortal, noting that they don’t seem to be “inhabitants o’ th’ earth”. He also wonders wheather they are really women, since they seem to have beards like men. The witches hail Macbeth as thane of Glamis and as thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is baffled by this second title, as he has not yet heard of King Duncan’s decision. The witches also declare that Macbeth will be king one day. Stunned and intrigued, Macbeth presses the witches for more information, but they have turned their attention to Banquo, speaking in yet more riddles. They call Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” and “not so happy, yet much happier”; then they tell him that he will never be king but that his children will sit upon the throne. Macbeth implores the witches to explain what they meant by calling him thane of Cawdor, but they vanish into thin air.

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Writing