Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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pg 25061.1Sc. 1

Editor’s NoteThunder and lightning. Enter three Witches
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first witch When shall we three meet again?

2In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Editor’s Note3

second witch When the hurly-burly's done,

4When the battle's lost and won.


third witch That will be ere the set of sun.


first witch Where the place?

second witch Upon the heath.

Editor’s Note7

third witch There to meet with Macbeth.

Editor’s Note8

first witch I come, Grey Malkin.

second witch Paddock calls.

third witch Anon!

Editor’s Note9

all witches Fair-is-Foul and Foul-is-Fair

10Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Editor’s NoteExeunt

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1.1.0 Thunder and lightning Often associated with supernatural figures in plays of the period. The Witches' possible command of the weather suggests a connection with the supernatural, even that they might be agents of destiny. Their incantatory verse-lines add to the effect.
Editor’s Note
1.1.0 Thunder and lightning Thunder was produced by striking a metal sheet or rolling cannon balls offstage. Lightning was produced with fireworks.
Editor’s Note
1.1.0 Enter three Witches In modern productions they have been realized variously, including as supernatural figures, peasant women, old hags, younger women, or figures of indeterminate gender.
Editor’s Note
1.1.3 hurly-burly turmoil
Editor’s Note
1.1.7 Macbeth historically MacBheatha mac Fhionnlaigh, King of Scotland 1040–57
Editor’s Note
1.1.8 Grey … Paddock (names given to a cat and toad or frog: the witches' 'familiars' or attendant evil spirits; Grey is perhaps 'blueish')
Editor’s Note
1.1.8 Anon soon, coming (speaking to her familiar)
Editor’s Note
1.1.8 I … Anon The first two Witches probably respond to offstage mewing and croaking, perhaps from different directions, or to less naturalistic noises. A third sound, such as a raven's croak, might prompt the Third Witch's 'Anon'!.
Editor’s Note
1.1.9 Fair-is-Foul and Foul-is-Fair Here understood as figurative embodiments of these contradictions, seen as present in the air. Alternatively, as statements: 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair', with Hover suggesting that the Witches might fly.
Editor’s Note Exeunt The Witches probably leave in different directions, perhaps with further thunder and lightning. They might exit normally, in flight ('Hover …'), or through the stage trapdoor. (Artificial fog does not seem to have been an effect on Shakespeare's stage.)
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