William Shakespeare has been by far the world's most popular playwright for more than 350 years. His ingenious ability as a playwright has captivated audiences and will captivate audiences for years to come. William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in 1564. The specific date of his birth is not known but is celebrated on the feast of St. George, April 23. Little is known about his boyhood, but through examination it is thought that he collected a lot of his information from books and from daily observation of the world around him.
During his life Shakespeare wrote many brilliant tragedies. He died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52. One of these brilliant tragedies was Macbeth. It is thought to have been written between 1603 and 1606. Macbeth is considered the shortest of Shakespeare's tragedies, but not less powerful in its depiction of evil, greed, jealousy, and the madness these emotions bring to a person. (Shakespeare, pg. v)
In any work of literature or drama there is usually foreshadowing. Foreshadow can be defined to be, "a sign of something to come: indicate or suggest beforehand; prefigure; presage." (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia) Playwrights use this technique to give the audience a sense of what is to come or what exactly is going to happen to a character. Foreshadowing can be easily detected or it cannot be noticed at all until the end of the play or story. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the prophecies of the witches and thoughts of Macbeth himself to foreshadow within the play. And Macbeth himself detects them somewhat as does the audience.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the three witches as main sources foreshadowing. In the play they are conveyed as prophecies. The audience experiences a little of these prophecies almost immediately in the opening scene and act of the play. When they talk about meeting Macbeth they say they will greet him, "when the battle's lost and won." (Shakespeare, pg.1) And then they yell together, "fair is foul, and foul is fair."(Shakespeare, pg.1) These two examples foreshadow that some sort of evil will be coming and that there will also be a victory of sorts, but the audience doesn't know specifically what yet. These also suggest a great battle is to be fought against good and evil and the events that follow will unfold at a rapid pace. This foreshadowing can be detected by the audience because they can feel the emotion of doom and evil rising.
The actual prophecies given by the witches occur in the third scene of the first act when they meet Macbeth and Banquo. They greet him with three titles, "Thane of Glamis," "Thane of Cawdor," and "King hereafter."( Shakespeare, pg. 5-6) The last two titles are used as foreshadowing for things to come. Macbeth himself sees them, but as prophecies that might come true. The title of Thane of Cawdor foreshadows a title that is soon announced to him in scene four due to the execution of Cawdor. The title King hereafter foreshadows a title that will cost him more than he knows. It will be through maddening guilt and evil that will gain him this title. These examples of foreshadowing show how the character themselves can be shown the foreshadowing, but not as facts, they see them as prophecies or predictions that might come true. Later in the scene Macbeth foreshadows his own fate. He says, "...present fears are less than horrible imaginings."(Shakespeare, pg8) This foreshadows his own fate in murdering the king and facing something worse than any battle he has ever fought.
The witches don't meet Macbeth again until act four. During this meeting with the witches, Macbeth learns three more prophecies that foreshadow his life to come. These prophecies are an armed head, a bloody child and the third a child crowned with a tree in his hand. The armed head tells Macbeth to, "beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife."(Shakespeare, pg. 53) This foreshadows Macbeth's death by Macduff. The bloody child says, "...for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth."(Shakespeare, pg.54) This again foreshadows Macbeth's death but describes Macduff more in detail as the one who kills Macbeth. It is later revealed that Macduff was not born in natural birth. The third prophecy tells Macbeth that he will never vanquish