In Macbeth, is there a symbolic purpose to the ingredients in the witches' stew?

Question:

In Macbeth, is there a symbolic purpose to the ingredients in the witches' stew?

Macbeth:

In Act IV, Scene I of Shakespeare's Macbeth, three witches prepare a powerful enchantment, describing the ingredients as they do so. In this scene, Macbeth seeks them out for further answers.

Answer and Explanation:

In Macbeth, the ingredients in the witches stew may indeed hold a symbolic purpose. Many of the ingredients link to ideas and events that are important to Macbeth's character arc in the play. For example, the witches begin by throwing in "poison'd entrails" and follow this with "venom" and part of a snake. These ingredients symbolically underscore how ambition has poisoned Macbeth's character and echoes Lady Macbeth's exhortation to him to be like a venomous snake who hides beneath a flower before they killed Duncan. Further, the snake imagery is continued as the witches add an "adder's fork" along with a "blind-worm's sting," symbolizing again Macbeth's venom and how he is blinded by his desire for power.


Learn more about this topic:

Loading...
The Witches in Macbeth: Quotes, Analysis & Prophecy

from

Chapter 4 / Lesson 7

Read about ‘’Macbeth’’’s witches, some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters. Explore the witches’ quotes and lines and see some analyses of their prophecies.


Related to this Question

Explore our homework questions and answers library