Macbeth Act 4 Quotes

“Round about the cauldron go; In the poisoned entrails throw…” (IV. i. 4-9). “Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake;…” (IV. i. 12-19). “Scale of a dragon, tooth of a wolf, Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf…” (IV. i. 22-34). Speaker: Three witches Context: The three witches prepare a sinister potion before Macbeth arrives to talk with them. Significance: The ingredients of the potion are pretty sinister and represent the tyrant and monster Macbeth is. All of the ingredients are pretty disgusting.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” (IV. i. 44-5). Speaker: Three witches Context: After the potion is complete the witches are expecting the arrival of Macbeth. Significance: They are saying that Macbeth is arriving and that he is a wicked human being.
“Beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife” (IV. i. 79-81). Speaker: First apparition Context: The first apparition that is raised is an armed head. Significance: The first apparition confirms Macbeth’s suspicions of Macduff, and makes him want to kill Macduff.
“Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the pow’r of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (IV. i. 89-92). Speaker: Second apparition Context: The second apparition is a bloody child. Significance: The apparition negates the fears Macbeth has because according to the apparition, no man born of woman can harm Macbeth. Macbeth should laugh at the power of man. Macbeth cannot be defeated by a human.
“But yet I’ll make assurance double sure and take a bond of fate” (IV. i. 94-95). Speaker: Macbeth Context: Macbeth says this after hearing the second apparition. Significance: Even though he cannot be defeated by any person born of woman, Macbeth wants to protect himself by murdering Macduff.
“Be lion-mettled, proud and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where consipers are. Macbeth shall never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him” (IV. i. 103-8). Speaker: Third apparition Context: The third apparition is a child crowned with a tree in its hand. Significance: The only way Macbeth can be defeated is if Birnam Wood travels to Dunsinane which is 12 miles. This bolsters Macbeth’s confidence because it seems impossible for the woods to move (hubris).
“And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass which shows me many morel and some I see that twofold balls and treble scepters carry” (IV. i. 135-137). Speaker: Macbeth Context: Said by M after he sees the eight Banquo lookalikes as king and a mirror showing many more of Banquo’s successors. Significance: This concerns Macbeth because if he is truly invincible than how is it possible for Banquo’s sons to become King.
“From this moment the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand” (IV. i. 168-170). Speaker: Macbeth Context: Macbeth says this to Lennox after visiting with the three witches. Significance: He says this in response to hearing that Macduff had fled to England and is angered in his desire to kill Macduff. He is angry at himself for waiting to kill him when he had doubts. He vows that he will act immediately on his impulses instead of thinking.
“Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes, his mansion, and his titles, in a place from whence himself does fly? He loves us not, he wants the natural touch. For the poor wren, (the most diminutive of birds) will fight, her young ones in her nest, against the owl. As little wisdom, where the flight so runs against all reason” (IV. ii. 9-18). Speaker: Lady Macduff Context: Ross visits Lady Macduff to ensure her of Macduff’s wisdom and courage even though he left for England. Significance: Lady Macduff thinks that her husband is motivated entirely by fear, not by love of his family. In reality, he fled Scotland so that he could convince Malcolm to overthrow Macbeth and regain the throne.
“I am young; but something you may discern of through me, and wisdom to offer up a weak, poor innocent lamb t’ appease angry god” (IV. iii. 16-20). Speaker: Malcolm Context: Macduff goes to England to recruit Malcolm to join him in an invasion of Scotland. Significance: Malcolm shows his skeptical nature. He thinks that Macduff may betray Malcolm in order to receive a reward from Macbeth.
“Perchance even there where I did find my doubts. Why in that rawness left you wife and child, those precious motives, those strong knots of live, without leave-taking” (IV. iii. 30-34). Speaker: Malcolm Context: Malcolm says this in the conversation with Macduff, when Macduff goes to England to recruit Malcolm. Significance: Malcolm is especially suspicious of Macduff because he left his wife and children unprotected at home when he fled to England.
“… black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state esteem as a lamb, being compared with my confineless harms” (IV. iii. 62-5). Speaker: Malcolm Context: Malcolm tries to test Macduff’s motives by seeing what kind of king Macduff would support. Significance: Malcolm tells Macduff a series of fictitious vices that Malcolm says make Macbeth seem pure as snow, in comparison to Malcolm.
“But I have none. The king-becoming graces, as justice, verity, temp’rance, stableness, bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, I have no relish of them, but abound in the division of each several crime, acting it many ways” (IV. iii. 106-112). Speaker: Malcolm Context: Occurs in the continued conversation between Malcolm and Macduff. Significance: Malcolm claims that he lacks all of the virtues appropriate to being a king. He states that his crimes are abundant and varied.
“… this noble passion child of integrity, hath from my soul wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts to thy good truth and honor” (IV. iii. 132-5). Speaker: Malcolm Context: Happens when Malcolm ends his test to verify Macduff’s loyalty. Significance: Convinced that Macduff would support the right king, Malcolm tells Macduff that the vices were untrue and tells Macduff that he is truthful and honorable.
“Front to front bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself. Within my sword’s length set him” (IV. iii. 273-5). Speaker: Macduff Context: Ross tells Macduff that his wife, children and servants have been killed and Macduff is deeply saddened. Significance: After being told by Malcolm to convert his grief to anger, he shows his desire to get revenge on Macbeth. He wants no delay to keep him from face to face combat with Macbeth.

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