Act 4, Scene 1:
Characters: The witches, Hecate, Macbeth
Location: A dark cavern. A boiling cauldron lies in the middle of the cave.
Events: The witches concoct a boiling potion in the centre of the dark cavern. Macbeth enters the cave and approaches the witches and Hecate. Macbeth demands to know the truth about his prophecies. The witches present to Macbeth 3 new prophecies by presenting to him horrifying apparitions. Number 1: A floating head – to warn him to be wary of Macduff. Number 2: A bloodied child – “None of woman born/shall hurt Macbeth.” This was intended that Macbeth would believe himself to be invincible, seeing as nobody born of a woman would be able to hurt him. Number 3: A crowned child holding a tree – the child tells Macbeth that he will not be defeated until Birnam Wood marches to fight him at Dunsinane Hill.
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff.
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.
Macbeth! Be aware of the Thane of Fife, Macduff.
Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.
No one born of a woman can harm Macbeth. This gives Macbeth the false apprehension of invincibility, which the witches will hope will cause him to act rash and recklessly.
“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.”
No one will be able to defeat Macbeth until Birnam Wood will march to fight him at Dunsinane hill. Macbeth replies:
That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements! Good!
Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom.
How could that ever happen? Who can command the forest to uproot itseld to come and fight me? Good, I will reign King forever.
Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?
My heart still yearns to know one thing. Can you foresee if the children of Banquo will ever reign King of this land?
Act 4, Scene 2:
Characters: Lady Macduff, her Son, Rosse, Messenger, Murderers
Location: Macduff’s castle
Events: Lady Macduff and Rosse talk, and Lady Macduff demands for Rosse to tell her why her husband has fled from her and their son. Rosse tells Lady Macduff that her husband did the right thing due to what was happening at the moment. Lady Macduff tells her son that his father is dead, but he refuses to believe his mothers’ word. A messenger arrives in the scene and urges Lady Macduff to flee as she is believed to be in danger. Shortly after, a murdered also arrives and proclaims that Macduff is a traitor. Macduff’s son does not believe his father has done anything wrong and tells the murderer he is a liar. The murderer stabs the little boy and Lady Macduff flees with the murderer on her heels.
For the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
Lady Macbeth is referring to her husband, Macduff, when she says the even the wren, the smallest of birds will stand and fight to protect her young from the fiercest owl.
I am in this earthly world, where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly.
I am on this earth where doing harm and evil is often praised, but to sometimes do good is thought of as foolish.
Act 4, Scene 3:
Characters: Malcolm, Macduff, Doctor, Rosse
Location: Outside King Edward’s castle
Events: Macduff arrives in England, wanting Malcolm to return home to Scottland with him to join him in his fight to overthrow Macbeth’s rule. Malcolm is suspicious of where Macduffs intentions and loyalty lies, and proceeds to tell a series of lies to measure where his intentions in wanting him to return to Scottland is stemmed from and where his true loyalty lies. He finally determines that Macduff that Macduff is not loyal to Macbeth, and he decides that he is willing to ally his army with Macduff to fight Macbeth and take him dooouuwwwnn!
Macduff is alerted of his families brutal murder back home in Scottland, and weighed down with guilt, he prepares to invade and attack Macbeth alongside Malcolm.
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke.
It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds.
Referring to Macbeths rule over Scottland.