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Macbeth The Supernatural Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) from the Folger Shakespeare Library

Quote #1

When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.


I come, Graymalkin.

Paddock calls.


Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
Hover through the fog and filthy air. (1.1.1-13)

The audience might not get a look at the stage directions, but all the clues are here: the women speak in rhythmic, chant-like lines (check out "Writing Style" for a close look at their language); they call out to their familiars—and, since "Graymalkin" was a common name for a cat, the audience would have gotten the reference, sort of like saying, "I come, Crookshanks/ Hedwig calls"; and, finally, they end with that creepy inversion: fair is foul, and foul is fair." Supernatural? Super creepy, at least.

Quote #2

I'll drain him dry as hay.
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his penthouse lid.
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary sev'nnights, nine times nine,
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.
Look what I have. (1.3.15-27)

All the sailor's wife did was refuse to share her chestnuts, and now the sisters are going to make him impotent and infertile. You do not want to tick off a witch. (Oh, but those chestnuts? Sometimes a chestnut isn't just a chestnut, if you know what we mean.)

Quote #3

That look not like th' inhabitants o' th' Earth
And yet are on 't?—Live you? Or are you aught
That man may question? 


                                You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so. (1.3.42-44;47-49)

If Macbeth were a horror movie—which it kind of is—then Banquo would be the skeptic who gets killed because he refuses to believe. Where Macbeth accepts the supernatural unquestioningly, doing some pretty dumb things like following a floating dagger and arguing publically with a ghost, Banquo isn't to completely discard his reason and rationality. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the wrong choice.

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