Lady Macbeth hears both of the coming royal visit, and also of the appearance and words of the three witches. Although a bold, ambitious, worldly woman, she from the first believes them, implicit faith in witchcraft and magic being evidently general, if not universal, in Scotland at this period.1 She has all her husband's ambition, without a particle of his loyalty to the King, which prevents his following her counsels as speedily and eagerly as she wishes. Directly she hears of the King's visit, she resolves in her own mind that he shall never leave Macbeth's castle alive. For she thoroughly believes the witches' prediction about her husband's becoming king, and, though they never suggested crime as necessary to confirm their prophecy, she resolves to persuade Macbeth to remove every obstacle to its fulfillment.
She reads in her husband's castle a letter from him announcing his strange meeting with the witches, their telling him he will become King of Scotland and be previously made Lord of Cawdor. The title of Glamis he possessed before, but he and she now foresee or expect the two future distinctions, and she therefore exclaims eagerly to herself, as if addressing hiM
This last title she might likely expect for Macbeth owing to the rebellion of its unfortunate owner, who was of course proclaimed a traitor. But the sovereignty of Scotland, though Macbeth is related to the King, is a delightful astonishment to her, as King Duncan has two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, both loyal to their reigning father. She therefore proceeds with some doubt, yet determinedIt is, perhaps, strange that the idea never occurs to her superstitious mind that probably Duncan and his sons were alike fated to die before Macbeth, which would ensure his lawful as well as predicted accession to the Scottish throne. This hope apparently occurred to Macbeth himself, on first hearing the prophecy, when he exclaimed:
"If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, Without my...