6th March 2018

Mcbeth scene summaries

act one, scene one:

Characters: 3 witches

3 witches conversing, deciding to meet Macbeth on the heath after the battle is done           

Witches “when the hurlyburly’s done when the battle’s lost and won” First of many paradoxes used by the witches. “fair is foul and foul is fair”


act 1, scene 2

Characters: Duncan, Rosse, Malcom, Lenox

Rosse explained to Duncan (king) how the battle ended in Scotlands victory and Duncan makes Macbeth the thane of Cawdor – though Macbeth does not know it yet.

Captain – First view of Macbeth : ” For brave Macbeth – Destaining fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution.” he is seen as a hero because of killing the traitorous Macdonwald.

act 1, scene 3

Characters: Witches, Macbeth, Banquo

Location: the ‘heath’

Note: (aside) means that the character is speaking directly to the audience – showing thoughts

A rhyming couplet marks the end of a scene

The witches make a plan to cause mischief. Then enter Macbeth and Banquo and the witches tell them of things to come like Macbeth becoming king and Banquo’s children being king – this introduces a conflict. Rosse and Angus come and tell Macbeth that he s now lord of Cawdor – confirming one of the witches prophecies. 

Macbeth (aside): ” if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir.” In this we can draw a connection to Romeo giving himself up to fate ” then he that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail”. Macbeth is saying that if he is fated to be king, then he will let fate give it to him.

act 1, scene 4

Location: the kings castle

Macbeth and king Duncan talk, Macbeth professing his loyalty to the king. But saying aside “stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires” asking god to look away from his treasonous desire to kill the king.

act 1, scene 5

Location: Lady Macbeth and Macbeths house

Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth telling that king Duncan will come to their house that night. Lady Macbeth chastises Macbeth and believes that he is not ‘strong’ enough to kill the king, she calls on evil spirits to “un sex her” and give her the able-ness of a man in order to make Macbeth king.

Macbeth arrives home and talks with lady Macbeth and she gives him a speech saying ” look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under’t” However Macbeth is uninspired.


Analysis : metaphor

In Elizabethan times there was a smothering oppression that choked women – giving them very little voice and very few options. They are forced to act a certain way, with more rules about what they can’t do, than things the can. For many women this would create frustration, desperation, and, perhaps (in lady Macbeths case) a crazed desire for cruelty and violence.  Lady Macbeth is a desperately dark woman who Shakespeare has laced in her evil intentions and presents her ‘dire ambition’ through metaphors. Metaphors are used to catch our attention with powerful imagery and personification… such as ” nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark to cry, hold, hold!”  Act 1, scene 5, line 52. Lady Macbeth, moments before had called upon the spirits to sharpen her weak, unable woman’s body into a weapon of vilest cruelty suitable for defying God and killing King Duncan. When she says ” nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark” she is using personification to portray heaven as a scared child or person cowering under a blanket, hiding from the terrors of the world. “The blanket of the dark” portrays the night as thick, heavy and, most importantly, able to conceal. In saying this Lady Macbeth is asking the impossible, she wants her actions to go unseen by God and heaven.



Act 1, Scene 6

Characters: Duncan, Malcolm, Lennox, Donalbain, Banquo, Macduff, Rosse, Angus, Lady Macbeth

Location: Lady Macbeth and Macbeths house

King Duncan praises Lady Macbeths house and Lady Macbeth simperes, claiming to be his humble servant and not letting on to her murderous intents.

Act 1, Scene 7

Characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth

Location:  Lady Macbeth and Macbeths house

Macbeth (alone) praises Duncan and decides not to to go through with the murder. Lady Macbeth enters and Macbeth tells her of his decision, Lady Macbeth gets very angry and scorns his unmanliness. After her speech Macbeth agrees to join her – Lady Macbeth tells him a plan to make the guards drunk and pin Duncans murder on them.

These quotes were taken from the beginning and end of at 7 and I took them to show how Macbeths mind has completely changed after the scornful, abusive speech for lady Macbeth.


We will proceed no further in this business.
He hath honored me of late, and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.


     I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show.
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Act 2, Scene 1
Banquo, Fleance (son), Macbeth
It is late within  Macbeths castle, and Banquo and Macbeth speak of not sleeping and, as Banquo turns to exit Macbeth reminds him of the witches prophecy and says that it would “make honour for you ” . Banquo responds
“So I lose none

In seeking to augment it, but still keep

My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
I shall be counselled.” meaning:
“I’ll do whatever you say, as long as I can do it with a clear conscience.
quote from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/
Act 2, Scene 2
Macbeth, lady Macbeth
Lady Macbeth is alone and imagining Macbeth killing Duncan. Macbeth enters and reports the murder to Lady Macbeth – stressing over how he could not reply ‘amen’ to the woken servants oblivious prayers – though he desperately needed a blessing.
Macbeth then goes on to say that he hears a ‘voice’ saying that he has murdered sleep and Macbeth will sleep no more. Similar to the imaginary dagger in the scene above – Macbeth imagines that his blood stained hands are ripping out his eyes. lady Macbeth replies – in the same shameful way:
“My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white.” Meaning:
My hands are as red as yours,
but I would be ashamed if my heart were as pale and weak.
quote from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/
Act 2, Scene 3
Macbeth, lady Macbeth, Banquo, Lenox, Macduff  
When Macduff comes knocking for Duncan in the morning after Duncans murder, the porter talks about being drunk the night before, then Macbeth and Lenox enter. Macduff is the 1st to see the dead Duncan and says

“O horror, horror, horror!

Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!”

 Upon knowing of Duncans death Macbeth and Lenox exit.  Lady Macbeth arrives and she pretends she is surprised and horrified.

When the party regroups moments later, Lennox says that Macbeth and himself had found the guards covered in blood with daggers beside their beds. Macbeth declares that in his rage he had killed the guards.
Act 2, Scene 4
Macduff, Rosse, Old man
Rosse and the old man talk about how the animals about the castle are behaving unusually and everything fells strange. Macduff enters and brings news that Malcom and Donolbain have fled – making it seem that they had paid the guards to kill the king (their father) and because of that Macbeth has been named king and is off to Scone to be crowned.
Act 3, Scene 1
Macbeth, Murderers, Lady Macbeth, Banquo, attendant
Banquo alone in a room in the palace voices how he knows about Macbeth murdering the king, however seeing how he might gain from it ( his son becoming king) he does not confront Macbeth about it. Macbeth enters dressed as a king and he and Banquo talk about Banquo and his son going out for a ride. They part ways and Macbeth is alone with a servant. He orders the servant to get two men for him. Alone Macbeth delivers a soliloquy about how Banquo is the only man he fears, commenting on how he had murdered Duncan just so that Banquos sons could be king.
The servant reenters with two murderers. Macbeth reminds them of a conversation they had had the day before, and stresses all the wrongs Banquo had done them and ordering them to kill Banquo and his son Fleance.
Act 3, Scene 2
Macbeth, lady Macbeth and servant
Lady Macbeth asks the servant to fetch Macbeth for a talk. Macbeth enters and worries to lady Macbeth, saying that they’ve merely scorched the snake, not killed it. Macbeth compares dead Duncan’s death as a state preferable to his; at least Duncan doesn’t have to worry about loose ends. Lady Macbeths tries to soothe him and tells him to not worry about what they’ve done. when the issue of Banquo comes up Lady Macbeth asks him what he is planning, but he doesn’t answer, saying that it is better not to know.
Act 3, Scene 3
murderers, Banquo, Fleance

The murderers meet and, as planned Banquo and his son come riding along. The murderers attack Banquo, as they do he cries out “

O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou may ’st revenge —O slave!”
“Oh, this is treachery! Get out of here, good Fleance, run, run, run! Someday you can get revenge.—Oh, you bastard!”

 Banqou is killed as they stab him, but Fleance flees.

help from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/
Act 3, Scene 4
Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Lennox, Lords, Rosse
In a large room in the palace a banquet is prepared. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth enter as king and queen, they greet their guests and one of the murderers come to the side of the stage and fills Macbeth in with the news of Banquos murder – explaining that Fleance escaped. Macbeth is angry but returns to the table. when he returns he sees Banquos ghost… horror struck he speaks to the ghost. Lady Macbeth hurredly tries to excuse her husband to the lords. Aside she tells Macbeth to man up and that he is spoiling the dinner. Banquo’s ghost disappears and again to their guests Macbeth says that the visions are normal and gives a toast. At this the ghost reappears and Macbeth talks to it again, confusing the company and angering Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth sends out their guests and with just the two of them “Macbeth mutters that “blood will have blood” and tells Lady Macbeth that he has heard from a servant-spy that Macduff intends to keep away from court, behavior that verges on treason (3.4.121). He says that he will visit the witches again tomorrow in the hopes of learning more about the future and about who may be plotting against him. He resolves to do whatever is necessary to keep his throne, declaring: “I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er”” 
help from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/
Act 3, Scene 5
Witches, Hecate
At a heath the Witches meet with Hecate (who is the godess of witches) She is angry at them for prophesying for Macbeth without consulting her, she then says that she will join in on the mischief and undo Macbeth.
Act 3, Scene 6
Lennox speaking to the lords, starting with sarcasm and turning into stated facts says that he suspects Macbeth of murder and thinks he is a ‘tyrant’. Banquos murder has been pinned on Fleance, nevertheless Lennox will go to meet Macduff and the king of England for aid. 
Quote from Lennox – speaking about Macduff as if he is an angel, who must save Scotland from Macbeth
 Some holy angel
Fly to the court of England and unfold
His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accursed!
Act 4, Scene 1
3 Witches, some apparations and Macbeth
In a cavern around a boiling cauldron the Witches enter. Macbeth joins them and demands to be shown things about his future. The first apparition is of a soldiers helmeted head that tells him to beware of  Macduff. The second is a bloodied baby that tells Macbeth that no man “of woman born.” can kill him. The third is a child wearing a kings crown… it tells Macbeth that he will not be vanquished in battle until a forest moves. Encouraged by this Macbeth demands the Witches to show him if Banquos issue will be kings and, after denying him, the Witches show him a line of ghost-kings all following Banquo parade before Macbeth while he curses the Witches. He realises that this means that the ghosts are all Banquos children as kings and the Witches disappear. Lenox enters and Macbeth asks him if he saw the witches… he says that he didn’t, but delivers the news that Macduff has fled to England. At this Macbeth promises to the audience: 
Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool.
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!—Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are
Time, you thwart my dreadful plans. Unless a person does something the second he thinks of it, he’ll never get a chance to do it. From now on, as soon as I decide to do something I’m going to act immediately. In fact, I’ll start following up my thoughts with actions right now. I’ll raid Macduff’s castle, seize the town of Fife, and kill his wife, his children, and anyone else unfortunate enough to stand in line for his inheritance. No more foolish talk. I will do this deed before I lose my sense of purpose. But no more spooky visions!—Where are the messengers? Come, bring me to them.
help from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/
Act 4, Scene 2
Lady Macduff, Lady Macduff’s son, murderer, messenger, Rosse
In a room in Macduff’s castle Rosse, Lady Macbeth and her son enter. Lady Maduff and Rosse talk about how Macduff has fled and Lady Maduff cuts his actions down as unwise and loveless. Rosse exits and Lady Maduff turns to her son saying

“Sirrah, your father’s dead.

And what will you do now? How will you live?”
Her son goes on to say that he will live off what he can get, as birds do. He questions why his father is ‘dead’ and whether or not he is a traitor. Lady Macduff sadly tells him that he is…. that all those who swear and lie are traitors, to be hung by the honest men. The son comments on this, saying 
“Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men and hang up them”
A messenger enters and advises her and her son to flee, but his warning comes too late as a murderer enters looking for Macduff and saying he is a traitor. Lady Macduff’s son rebukes saying “You’re lying, you shaggy-haired villain!” the murderer then stabs and kills him. 
Act 4, Scene 3
Malcom ( the kings son), Macduff, Rosse
In England a room in the kings palace Malcolm and Macduff enter. Malcom voices his mistrust of Macduff as he has fled from his family and country and could be working for Macbeth. To see whether Macduff is trustworthy Malcom delivers speeches about his own downfalls, lamenting that he is violent and lustfull, not fit to be king, maybe not fit even to live. Initially Macduff disagrees with his self criticism, but after crying “O Scotland, Scotland!” his patriotic personality drives him to agree that Malcom that is not fit to be king. At this Malcom decides that he is trustworthy and confesses to lying about his shortcomings. 
A doctor enters and tells the two of the king of England attending to a “crew of wretched souls”. Malcom explains that king Edward has the power to heal the sick.

The doctor leaves and Rosse enters – who has just arrived from Scotland. He tells Macduff that his family are safe and well, then to Malcom he says that he must return to Scotland, listing all the awful things that has happened to the country since Macbeth was crowned. Malcom replies with 

Be ’t their comfort
We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.
Meaning that he will return to Scotland with ten thousand of King Edwards men.
Suddenly Rosse confesses to Macduff that Macbeth had killed his wife, children and household. Macduff is torn by the news, but Malcom urges him to “Dispute it like a man.” and use his grief as fuel and anger. He compares the situation to weapons, saying:
Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief
Convert to anger. Blunt not the heart, enrage it.
Act 5, Scene 1
Lady Macbeth, Doctor and Gentle Woman
In Dunisnanne, a room in the castle the doctor is speaking with a gentle woman. the gentle woman tells him of how she has seen Lady Macbeth sleepwalk ” I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon ’t, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.”
The doctor questions the gentle woman about what Lady Macbeth says during these times, but she refuses to tell him. At that moment the sleepwalking Lady Macbeth enters. After rubbing her hands she says “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.” Meaning ” Come out, damned spot! Out, I command you! One, two. OK, it’s time to do it now.—Hell is murky!—Nonsense, my lord, nonsense! You are a soldier, and yet you are afraid? Why should we be scared, when no one can lay the guilt upon us?—But who would have thought the old man would have had so much blood in him?”
The gentle woman and the doctor agree that she has said something she shouldn’t have and wonder at what secrets she is keeping. The doctors says that her condition is beyond him, but he has known people to sleep walk and not be guilty. Then Lady Macbeth says “Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ’s grave.” and exits to go to bed.
Act 5, Scene 2
Menteth, Angus, Cathness, Lenox and soldiers

In ‘the country near Dunsinane’ the above character meet. On their heels is the English army, marching to Birman, led by Malcolm, Malcom’s Uncle Siward, and Macduff. The men ridicule the king, calling him a tyrant. Angus says “Now does he feel  His secret murders sticking on his hands. Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith breach. Those he commands move only in command,  Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe Upon a dwarfish thief.”

In the end the men conclude to go and join the English forces.
Act 5, Scene 3, 4,5,6,7,8,9

Macbeth in his castle speaks to a servant who informs him of the position of the English army. Macbeth is unafraid and angry, saying “Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all. Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: “Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman Shall e’er have power upon thee.” He is not worried because he thinks he is safe, when the servant tries to tell him of the 10,000 soldiers, he cuts him down, saying “Go, prick thy face and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-livered boy. What soldiers, patch? Death of thy soul! Those linen cheeks of thineAre counselors to fear. What soldiers, whey-face? The servant exits and Macbeth meets with the doctor, who tells him of lady Macbeths mind-sickness, saying that only she can cure herself. Macbeth orders him to fix her, then badgers him for information, showing that he is not as unconcerned as he gives off.

The English army in Birnam wood are ordered by Malcom to cut off a branch to conceal their numbers as they march.
Back in the castle Macbeth is in his armour when a shriek is heard, He is told that it is lady Macbeth, who has just died by killing herself. Macbeth delivers a speech, in which he counts time in “syllables” instead of seconds ” She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
Then comes the announcement that Birnam wood is ‘moving’ the servant that delivers this news is verbally abused by Macbeth, but then he if fearful as the prophecy is being fulfilled – as Birnam wood is moving to Dunsinane.
Macbeth and Young Siward meet on the battle field. Siward jr fights Macbeth and is killed.
Macbeth and Macduff meet on the battlefield. macbeth says that he wishes not to kill him, for the blood of his family is already on his hands. Macduff says “ I have no words. My voice is in my sword. Thou bloodier villain Than terms can give thee out!” meaning that his sword will speak for him, and Macbeth is too evil for words. Macbeth is killed.
In the castle Dunsinane Malcom tells Siward of his noble sons death. Macduff enters with Macduff’s head, saying ” Hail, king! For so thou art. Behold where stands The usurper’s cursèd head. The time is free.

I see thee compassed with thy kingdom’s pearl, That speak my salutation in their minds, Whose voices I desire aloud with mine. Hail, King of Scotland!”
All say “hail king of scotland!” and Malcom delivers a speech and announces that he will go to scone to be named king right away.






Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. In response to your paragraph about Lady Macbeth:

    It’s quite a complicated matter, to comment on the place of women in societies very different to our own. I agree that there would be a degree of frustration for women in those times (let alone the times where Macbeth is actually set, some centuries earlier).

    However, I think it might be that you’ve over-stated the sense of oppression women would have felt. I don’t want to propose that Shakespeare was the world’s greatest feminist, but what I would encourage is for you to take the position that Lady Macbeth is a character (device) of Shakespeare’s invention who embodies some of the ideas he wants to convey. If this is the perspective we take, then we could just as easily say that Shakespeare imbued Lady Macbeth with human ambition and that the feminist aspect is the extent to which a woman was able to embody this.

    Otherwise I would say that suggesting that Lady Macbeth goes to these lengths because she’s oppressed as a woman might be stretching things a little. To a woman like you, the oppression women experienced might be suffocating, but Lady Macbeth was a woman of her time – the oppression, to her, was normal.

    I’d be happy to discuss this further with you if you were interested.



Respond now!