By the pricking of my thumbs (ACT 4, Scene I)

When shall we three meet again, double double toil and trouble, Fair is foul and foul is fair, I dare do all that may become a man


The Macbeth Quote “By the pricking of my thumbs” is uttered by a witch in Act 4, scene I. This is the third time in the play that the witches appear. They carry out the orders given by Hecate, the Goddess of witches. Hecate in her previous meeting with the witches ordered them to deceive Macbeth when he comes again.

The three witches meet on the heath, under thunder and lightning and they perform some sort of ritual, where they put strange things like dog’s tongue, bat’s fur, poisoned toad, dragon’s scale etc in a boiling cauldron. They anticipate Macbeth, as it was predicted by Hecate. While they were having their feast, a witch hears a noise of someone’s coming.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks.

The witch utters that someone wicked is coming, and she can say it by the pricking of her thumb. Witches possess supernatural powers, which is evident in the play. The witch sensed someone evil and wicked just by the tingling in her thumb.

It was Macbeth who came there to know more about his future. Witches were ready to deceive him by filling his mind with the false sense of invincibility

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