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Act 4 Scene SummariesCharactersThemesMotifs
Scene 1


Macbeth visits the Witches and is given three new prophecies: 1) to beware of Macduff; 2) that no man who is born of woman can harm Macbeth; 3) he is safe until Burnham Wood moves to Dunsinane Hill.

Hecate is the goddess of the witches and she takes part in the delusions of Macbeth. She helps spread thoughts to plague his sweet mind with ambitions.


Macbeth has become cold, mean, heartless, and selfish. His sheer level of selfishness is disturbing to witness. He went from worry and fear about killing his dear Duncan, to needless death just to get his way.

Free will and fate: to what extent is Macbeth in control of his own destiny?


It is an interesting question as to if there is any control. He spends all this time trying to stop the prophecy from happening. He doesn’t want the fact he killed Duncan to be fruitless He attempts to stop fate by killing Banquo, but maybe that was a part of fate anyway.

Ambition: Ambition brought Macbeth back to the witches. He demands to be told the prophecy when he states, “I insist that you answer my questions. I command you in the name of whatever dark powers you serve. I don’t care if you unleash violent winds that tear down churches, make the foamy waves overwhelm ships and send sailors to their deaths, flatten crops and trees, make castles fall down on their inhabitants’ heads, make palaces, and pyramids collapse, and mix up everything in nature. Tell me what I want to know.” He is ignorant and careless about the damage he will cause, that’s dangerous ambition.

Prophecy is a used motif. It shows the witches telling Macbeth to hear more of the prophecy. How he interprets it may be different from the truth.
Scene 2


A group of murderers, sent by Macbeth, arrive at Macduff’s castle and kill his wife and children.

Macduff is portrayed as a selfish and fearful character. He left his wife and children despite knowing the dangers they may be in. We see the dangers come to play in this scene at their unfortunate death.Disloyalty and treason. Macduff is gone and his son and wife are left to wonder where he is, ad why he’s abandoned his family. His sons ask lady Macduff if his father was a traitor to which lady Macduff responds “Ay, that he was”. P 150 Lady Macduff doubts her husband and is disappointed by his inexplicable disappearance. She states in anguish “From whence does he fly? He loves us not” p 146There is fear used to explain people’s actions. It is assumed that fear is what has caused Macduffs to leave. Lady Macduff says this in the line “All is the fear and nothing is love”. Saying she’s been abandoned by a weak, fearful man.
Scene 3


Macduff finds out his family has been killed.  He rounds up the English armies ready to take revenge

Malcolm is a very smart man. He is suspicious of Macduff and tests him before following his word. Saying he would be a bad king until he can be convinced that Macduff isn’t under the orders of Macbeth.Tyrannical rule: Macbeth is constantly referred to as a tyrant. Running the country in unrest, causing people to be living in horrid, unfair circumstances. He has been called many things including, “devilish Macbeth.”A motif is that of manhood. We see Macduff deal with a soul-crushing circumstance. He finds out his wife and all his children are dead, he is angry, and we want revenge. Malcolm tells him to “dispute it like a man.” Macduff replies, “I shall do so, but I also must feel it like a man.” This shows Macduff’s character very well.

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