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They tell Macbeth that he can never be harmed by anyone “of woman born,” but they neglect to tell him that Macduff was surgically removed from his mother’s womb and therefore doesn’t fall into that category.Similarly, they tell Macbeth that he can’t be defeated until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, but they don’t alert him to the possibility that the opposing army might advance on his castle under cover of branches cut from Birnam trees.
Instead, they rely on implications, riddles, and ambiguity to evade the truth.
Macbeth’s ability to manipulate his language and his public image in order to hide his foul crimes makes him a very modern-seeming politician.
Lady Macbeth mimics this language when she directs her husband to look like an “innocent flower” in order to hide the “serpent” that truly lurks in his heart.
The Macbeths know how to use imagery and appearance to conceal the truth, and sometimes they even use those skills on themselves.
Macbeth ignores several signs that might have alerted him to the witches’ deceptive capabilities.
Banquo warns Macbeth to be wary of their predictions, since evil creatures will sometimes win people’s confidence with “honest trifles”—small truths—only to betray them more deeply in the future.
He will not be as fortunate as Macbeth in the short term, as he will soon be assassinated, but will ultimately be much more fortunate because he won’t be made to suffer the everlasting torments of hell.
At no point do the witches lie to Macbeth—he simply hears what he wants to hear and ignores the rest.
The three Weird Sisters greet Banquo with a series of riddling titles, hailing him as “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater” and “Not so happy, yet much happier.” The phrases sound like nonsense, but in reality both assertions in each statement are true.
Banquo will have a lesser title than Macbeth, but is the greater (i.e., more moral) man.