Mackers really needs to reconsider his phrasing there.
As for the Macduff household... Simply tragic. Oddly enough, this sequence tends to get laughs in many of the classes I teach, but that's mostly attributable to the lack of humour release valves to be had herein, methinks.
If that was how they cursed people in plays, I wonder how bad the curses were in the real world back then? :D
Actually, the bit that gets me is when Macduff is informed of the slaughter of all his family and he keeps having to ask for confirmation that it's true.
"All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?"
But I'm getting ahead of things... sorry.
@Louise - Well, someone's getting a lump of coal... ;) Nah, it's fine. The anticipation of lines like that always gives things a sort of reverse dramatic irony. I wonder how many people since 1595 have gone to "Romeo and Juliet" and were surprised by the turn of events?
@!rickvoud - Considering the mix of greater superstition by the population and the greater prominence of the church, that's a pretty dire curse - moreso, even. Witches - as pawns/servants/disciples of the devil - were bad enough then, as the heyday of witchburnings were still in full swing. (Also, the new king, James I, was fanatical about witches, so Shakespeare used them to appeal to the king's interests _in addition to_ recasting the king's ancestor, Banquo, as a noble fellow.)
Macbeth, as noted, also casts himself into hell here - since his trip here for info indicates that he trusts the witches to help him. They don't really, of course...