Double, double toil and trouble

2nd Witch:
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking]
Open locks,
Whoever knocks! [Enter Macbeth]

Macbeth:
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is’t you do?

Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 44–49

The witch’s clublike digit tingles, signalling to her that evil approaches. It is the Shakespearean equivalent of having the hair on the back of the neck stand up.

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3 thoughts on “Double, double toil and trouble

  1. slowly catching up with your fascinating blog…

    so yeah, i get that it’s a thumb reference and all, but it pales in comparison to such chestnuts as:

    Macbeth:
    The devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac’d loon!
    Where got’st thou that goose look?

    Macbeth Act V, Scene III, 11-12

    and

    First Murderer:
    What! you egg.
    Young fry of treachery! [Stabbing him.

    Macbeth Act IV, Scene II, 89-90

    (special thanks to Leonard Tang for repeating these lines ad nauseam during AP English class…)

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