unigo_skin
Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Intro

Double, double, toil and trouble

We're the witches. We tell Macbeth some pretty radical news about him becoming king. We love to freak people out. And do we a little cooking on the side. And you know what we think?

FIRST WITCH
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

THIRD WITCH
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble (4.1.4-36).

Who Said It and Where

Think, for a moment, of every campfire story you've ever heard. There are witches, spells, disappearances, and a guy who's willing to do just about anything to become king and keep the crown. Okay, so maybe not every campfire story. But the plot of Macbeth sure makes for some scary stuff.

One day when Macbeth's galloping along in the forest after fighting in a battle, he stumbles upon three witches. But these aren't just any witches. They have some news for him. They prophesize that he will become king (yay!) but his kids will not (boo!).

After he kills the current king, Macbeth is named king and things are gravy. Prophecies fulfilled! Except, wait. Macbeth starts to worry about the witch's prophecy that his heirs won't be kings. If that's the case, that can't mean anything good for Macbeth. And Macbeth's not about to let someone bump him off the throne. Solution? He hires some hit men to take care of his enemies.

But he doesn't stop there. He freaks out that the witches know more that they're not telling him. He has some more questions about his future and he wants some answers from the weird sisters, pronto. So, he jaunts over to their place and we get this very odd scene.

We pick up with the three witches on a dark and stormy night. They're hanging out in a cave roasting marshmallows and chanting spells around a boiling cauldron. They throw all sorts of nasty bits in their creepy stew, from lizard's leg, to the finger of a "birth-strangled babe," to the eye of a newt, and the toe of a frog.

Any takers?

Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top