Double Double toil and trouble

double double toil and trouble, Fair is foul and foul is fair, I dare do all that may become a man

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The popular quote “Double Double toil and trouble”, from the Shakespeare play, Macbeth is sung by three witches often referred as “weird sisters” in the play. It is in ACT 4, Scene 1, that they are found performing some sort of weird ritual, in which they throw weird things like the poisonous toad, frog’s tongue, bat’s fur, dog’s tongue, lizard’s leg, owl’s wing and similar sort of nuisance in a cauldron. It appears like they are having a feast with these strange objects. At some point, it appears funny, but it is not unusual. Three Witches in the play, Macbeth have supernatural powers. They are full of vices and they are indulging themselves in some sort of supernatural phenomenon. In the play, they are shown troubling people. They troubled sailor, Macbeth, Banquo and directly or indirectly everyone in the play. The line “double double toil and trouble” is significant because each of human’s action in the play is manipulated by the three witches, who played with human’s weakness and mind.

Double double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good

The lines “double double toil and trouble….” are written in trochaic tetrameter, which is bit unusual because Shakespeare generally writes in iambic pentameter. When Shakespeare switches his tone, he does it to show something unusual, someone’s madness, fear etc. The lines are both funny and scary.

The three witches have deceived Macbeth earlier in the play, by making prophecy and filling his mind with the greed of becoming King. They play an important role in the play. They possess the supernatural ability and weird looks, dressed up like a woman, but still having the beard. Their prophecy has a direct impact on the central character of the play, Macbeth. The three witches played with the weak character of Macbeth, who doesn’t have the control over his ambition and action. Macbeth murdered king Duncan, later he kills Banquo, whom he sees as a threat to his position. He continued his evil deeds by killing Macduff family and there is no end to it. All these actions are directly related to the prophecy made by the three witches. Now Macbeth wanted to know more about his future and joined the witches in ACT 4, Scene 1.

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