home contact

Which three apparitions do the Witches show Macbeth?

The first is an armed head, summoned to warn Macbeth that Macduff is coming back to Scotland to ruin him. The second apparition is a bloody child and it tells Macbeth that no man born of a woman can do him harm. This gives Macbeth great confidence: "Then live Macduff: what need I fear of thee?" (4.1.78-80). The third apparition is that of a child wearing a crown and holding a tree. It declares:

Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him (4.1.87-90).

Macbeth is sure that the third apparition's prophecy will never be, for 'who can impress the forest?' or 'bid the tree unfix his earth-bound roots?' (4.1.91-3).

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. The Three Apparitions in Macbeth. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. < >.


More Resources

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
 Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?

 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

More to Explore

 Macbeth: The Complete Play with Annotations and Commentary
 Macbeth Character Introduction
 Metaphors in Macbeth (Biblical)
 Figures of Speech in Macbeth

 Aesthetic Examination Questions on Macbeth
 Supernatural Solicitings in Shakespeare
 Shakespeare on Omens

 Macbeth, Duncan and Shakespeare's Changes
 King James I and Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 Contemporary References to King James I in Macbeth
 The Royal Patent that Changed Shakespeare's Life

 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)

 Explanatory Notes for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5)
 The Psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth (Sleepwalking Scene)
 Is Lady Macbeth's Swoon Real?

 Explanatory Notes for the Witches' Chants (4.1)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 How to Stage a Production of Macbeth (Scene Suggestions)

 A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet
 The Effect of Lady Macbeth's Death on Macbeth
 The Curse of Macbeth
 On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth

 Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 Macbeth Q & A
 Essay Topics on Macbeth
 What is Tragic Irony?

 Stages of Plot Development in Macbeth
 Time Analysis of the Action in Macbeth
 Macbeth Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Quotations from Macbeth (Full)
 Top 10 Quotations from Macbeth

 Shakespeare's Workmanship: Crafting a Sympathetic Macbeth
 Origin of the Weird Sisters
 Temptation, Sin, Retribution: Lecture Notes on Macbeth
 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers