Macbeth Summary l Summary of Macbeth l Macbeth by Shakespeare

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Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 1:

It is stormy in Scotland. Three witches appear out of the storm. They are chanting tones. They make plans to meet again and confront Macbeth after the ongoing battle between the Scots and Irish invaders. They disappear quickly.

Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 2:

At a military camp, King Duncan of Scotland asks a wounded captain for news about the Scots’ battle with the Irish invaders. These invaders are led by the rebel Macdonwald. The captain replies that the Scottish generals Macbeth and Banquo fought with great courage and violence. The captain then tells him how Macbeth killed the traitorous Macdonwald. Meanwhile, the thane of Ross who is a Scottish nobleman enters and tells the king that the traitorous thane of Cawdor has been defeated and the army of Norway retreated. Duncan orders that the thane of Cawdor be put to death and that Macbeth, the hero of the battle, be given Cawdor’s title. The thane of Ross leaves to convey the news to Macbeth.
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Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 3:

Near the battlefield, the three witches appear as per their plan. They are conversing with one another when the third witch cries that Macbeth is coming. Macbeth and Banquo are on their way to King Duncan’s court. They come across the three witches and shrink in horror at their sight. Banquo asks whether they are mortal. He also wonders whether they are really women because they have beards like men. The three witches hail Macbeth as thane of Glamis and as thane of Cawdor. Thane of Glamis is the original title of Macbeth, but he is surprised by this second title. It is surprising for him because he has not yet heard of King Duncan’s decision. The witches also tell that Macbeth will become king one day. The witches then turn their attention to Banquo. They call Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater.” They also tell him that he will never be king but his children will sit upon the throne. Macbeth requests the witches to explain what they meant by calling him the thane of Cawdor, but they disappear. In complete disbelief, Macbeth and Banquo discuss their strange encounter.
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Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Ross and Angus. They have come to convey Macbeth and Banquo to King Duncan. Ross tells Macbeth that the king has made him thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is amazed that the prophecy of the witches has come true. He starts speaking to himself. He wonders whether he will easily gain the crown or whether he will have to perform a bad deed in order to gain the crown. At last, he shakes himself from these thoughts. The group departs for Forres to meet King Duncan.

Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 4:

Before the arrival of the group at the king’s palace, King Duncan hears reports of the thane of Cawdor’s execution from his son Malcolm. His son says that the thane of Cawdor died nobly, confessed freely, and repented of his crimes. The group reaches the King’s palace. King Duncan thanks the two generals (Macbeth and Banquo) for their bravery in the battle. He expresses his intention to name Malcolm the heir to his throne. Macbeth shows his joy but he thinks that Malcolm now stands between him and the crown. Plans are made for King Duncan’s dinner at Macbeth’s castle that evening. Macbeth goes to inform his wife of the king’s arrival.
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Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 5:

At Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth reads a letter she received from Macbeth. The letter tells about Macbeth’s promotion to the thaneship of Cawdor and his meeting with the witches. Lady Macbeth determines to convince her husband to do whatever is required to get the crown. Meanwhile, a messenger enters and informs Lady Macbeth that the king is riding towards the castle and that Macbeth is also on his way. Macbeth enters his castle. He and his wife discuss the king’s visit. He tells his wife that King Duncan plans to depart the next day, but Lady Macbeth tells him that the king will never be seen tomorrow. She tells him to leave the plan to her.
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Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 6:

King Duncan, the Scottish lords, and their attendants arrive and stand outside Macbeth’s castle. King Duncan admires the pleasant environment of the castle. He thanks Lady Macbeth for her hospitality. She replies that it is her duty to be hospitable because she and her husband are highly indebted to their king. King Duncan then asks to be taken inside the castle of Macbeth.

Macbeth Summary Act 1 Scene 7:

Inside the castle, servants are busy setting a table for the dinner. Macbeth thinks about his idea of assassinating King Duncan. He then considers the reasons why he should not kill Duncan.

The reasons include: Macbeth is Duncan’s subject, kinsman, and host. Moreover, the king is universally praised as a good and virtuous ruler. Lady Macbeth enters and tells Macbeth that the king is done with his dinner and that he has been asking for Macbeth. Macbeth tells her that he no longer wants to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and questions his manhood. He asks her what will happen if they do not succeed. She promises that as long as they are confident, they will be successful. Then she tells him about her plan. Her plan is: when King Duncan is asleep in his chamber, she will give wine to his chamberlains in order to make them drunk, and then she and Macbeth can murder King Duncan. They will smear King Duncan’s blood on the sleeping chamberlains to make them guilty. Macbeth is convinced and he agrees to proceed with the murder of King Duncan.
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Macbeth Summary Act 2 Scene 1:

Banquo and his son Fleance walk in the hall of Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth enters and Banquo is amazed to see him still awake. Banquo says that the king is asleep. He mentions that he had a dream about the three weird witches. Macbeth and Banquo agree to discuss the prophecies of the witches at a later time. Banquo and Fleance leave. In the dark hall, Macbeth has a vision of a dagger floating in the air before him. The handle of the dagger is pointing toward his hand and the tip of the dagger is aiming toward Duncan. Macbeth tries to hold the bloody weapon but fails. He wonders whether it’s real or not. He decides that the vision represents his uneasiness over the killing of King Duncan. He determines to do his bloody work.
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Macbeth Summary Act 2 Scene 2:

Lady Macbeth worries that the chamberlains have awakened when she hears Macbeth cry out. She declares that she cannot understand how Macbeth could fail. Macbeth comes with his hands covered in blood. He says that the deed is done.
Lady Macbeth at first tries to steady her husband, but she becomes angry when she notices that he has forgotten to leave the daggers with the sleeping chamberlains. He refuses to go back into the King’s chamber, therefore, she takes the daggers herself. She comes back and leads Macbeth back to the bed chamber where he washes off the blood.
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Macbeth Summary Act 2 Scene 3:

Macbeth enters and Macduff, who is the thane of Fife, asks him if the king is awake. Macbeth says that King Duncan is still asleep. He takes Macduff to the king. Macduff comes running from the room, shouting that the king has been assassinated. Macbeth and Lennox hurry up to look. Lady Macbeth expresses her horror that such a dark deed could be done under her roof.

Other nobles and their servants start coming in. Malcolm and Donalbain also arrive on the scene. They are told that their father has been killed probably by his chamberlains because they were found with bloody daggers. Macbeth tells that in his rage he has killed the guilty chamberlains.
Macduff is suspicious of these new deaths of chamberlains. Lady Macbeth suddenly faints. Malcolm and Donalbain tell each other that they are not safe in Scotland because whoever assassinated their father will definitely try to kill them. King Duncan’s sons decide to flee. Malcolm decides to go to England. Donalbain hastens to Ireland.

Macbeth Summary Act 2 Scene 4:

Ross walks outside the castle along with an old man. They discuss the ominous and strange happenings of the past few days. Macduff comes from the castle and tells Ross that Macbeth has been made king by the other lords and that he is now going to be crowned. Macduff adds that the chamberlains may have been paid off by someone to kill King Duncan. Macduff returns to his home at Fife, and Ross departs to see the new king’s coronation.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 1:

Banquo thinks that if the first prophecy of the witches came true, why not the second? Macbeth enters, dressed as king. He is followed by his queen, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ask Banquo to attend the dinner they will host that night. Banquo accepts their invitation. Macbeth says that they should discuss the problem of Malcolm and Donalbain. The brothers have gone from Scotland and maybe making plans against his crown. Macbeth is left alone in the hall with a servant.

He talks to the servant about some men who have come to see him. He orders that they be fetched. When the servant leaves, Macbeth begins a soliloquy. He reflects that his old friend (Banquo) is the only man in Scotland whom he fears. He thinks that if the prophecy of the witches is true, then his crown will be fruitless. Because according to the prophecy, the sons of Banquo will sit on the throne and, therefore, Macbeth will not have an heir to the throne. The servant re-enters with Macbeth’s two visitors. The two visitors are actually murderers whom Macbeth has hired. Macbeth reminds them of the wrongs Banquo had done them in the past. He asks whether they are angry and manly enough to take revenge on Banquo. They reply in the affirmative and Macbeth accepts their promise that they will murder Banquo. Macbeth reminds the murderers that Banquo’s son Fleance must be killed with his father. He tells the murderers to wait within the castle for his order.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 2:

Lady Macbeth is full of despair and sends a servant to fetch her husband. Macbeth enters and tells her that he is also uneasy. He said that his mind is “full of scorpions”. He feels that the mission that they began by killing King Duncan is not yet complete because there are still threats to the throne.

Macbeth tells his wife that he has planned a dreadful deed for Banquo and Fleance and urges her to be kind and jolly to Banquo during the dinner.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 3:

It is dark. The two murderers are now joined by a third. They linger in a wooded park outside the palace. Banquo and Fleance reach the castle on their horses and dismount. They light a torch, and the murderers attack them. They kill Banquo. While dying Banquo urges his son to flee and to avenge his death. Fleance escapes when one of the murderers extinguishes the torch.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 4:

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth enter as king and queen. Meanwhile, the first murderer appears at the doorway. Macbeth talks to him for a moment. He learns that Banquo is dead and Fleance has escaped. The news of Fleance’s escape enrages Macbeth.
Macbeth returns to his guests. He goes to sit at the head of the royal table but finds the ghost of Banquo sitting in his chair. He is horror-struck and starts speaking to the ghost which is not visible to other people present there. Lady Macbeth makes excuses for her husband by saying that he has such visions occasionally. She then questions Macbeth’s manhood and urges him to come out of his trance.

The ghost vanishes and Macbeth recovers. As he offers a toast to the company, Banquo’s ghost reappears. Lady Macbeth sends the guests out of the room and the ghost disappears again. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he has heard from a spy that Macduff wants to keep away from court. He further says that he will visit the witches again the following day in order to learn more about the future and about who may be making plans against him. He determines to do whatever is necessary to keep his throne.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 5:

The witches meet with Hecate who is the goddess of witchcraft. Hecate scolds them for meddling in the business of Macbeth without consulting her. However, she declares that she will take over as supervisor of the mischief. She says that when Macbeth comes tomorrow, they must summon spirits and visions whose messages will fill him with a false sense of security and will draw him on to his confusion.

Macbeth Summary Act 3 Scene 6:

That night Lennox walks with another lord. They discuss what has happened to the kingdom. Fleance has been officially blamed as Banquo’s murderer. Anyhow, both men suspect Macbeth. The lord tells Lennox that Macduff has gone to England. Macduff will join Malcolm in requesting England’s King Edward for help.

News of such plots prompts Macbeth to prepare for war. Lennox and the lord hope that Malcolm and Macduff will be successful in their efforts to save Scotland from Macbeth.

Macbeth Summary Act 4 Scene 1:

Macbeth asks the witches to reveal the truth of their prophecies to him. To answer his queries, they summon terrible apparitions. First, a floating head warns Macbeth to beware Macduff. Then a bloody child appears and tells him that, “none of woman born/shall harm Macbeth.” Next, a crowned child who holds a tree tells him that he is safe until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane Hill. Finally, a procession of eight crowned kings walks by. The last of them is carrying a mirror. Banquo’s ghost walks at the end of the line. Macbeth asks about the meaning of this final vision, but the witches perform a mad dance and then disappear. Lennox enters and tells Macbeth that Macduff has gone to England. Macbeth determines to send murderers to seize Macduff’s castle and to kill Macduff’s wife and children.

Macbeth Summary Act 4 Scene 2:

Lady Macduff scolds Ross. She demands to know why her husband has fled. Lady Macduff tells her son that his father is dead, but the little boy says that he is not. Suddenly, a messenger hurries in.

He warns Lady Macduff that she is in danger and urges her to flee. Lady Macduff protests by saying that she has done no wrong. Then A group of murderers enters. When one of them denounces Macduff, Macduff’s son calls the murderer a liar, and the murderer stabs him. Lady Macduff turns and starts running and the killers chase after her.

Macbeth Summary Act 4 Scene 3:

Outside the palace of King Edward, Malcolm speaks with Macduff. Malcolm tells him that he does not trust him because he has left Scotland and may be working secretly for Macbeth. To confirm whether Macduff is trustworthy, Malcolm talks of his own vices. He admits that he wonders whether he is fit to be king because he claims to be lustful, greedy, and violent. At first, Macduff politely disagrees with his future king, but eventually, Macduff cannot keep himself from crying out, “O Scotland, Scotland!” Macduff wins the trust of Malcolm.
Malcolm takes his words back about his supposed shortcomings. He embraces Macduff as an ally. Malcolm explains to Macduff that King Edward has a wonderful power to cure disease. Meanwhile, Ross enters. He has just arrived from Scotland. He tells Macduff that his wife and children are well. He provokes Malcolm to return to his country. Malcolm says that he will return with ten thousand soldiers lent him by the English king.

Then Ross confesses to Macduff that Macbeth has murdered his wife and children. Macduff is overcome with grief. Malcolm urges him to turn his grief into anger. Macduff assures him that he will take revenge on Macbeth.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 1:

It is night and a doctor and a gentlewoman discuss Lady Macbeth’s weird habit of sleepwalking. All of a sudden, Lady Macbeth enters with a candle in her hand. She Bemoans the murders of Lady Macduff and Banquo. She seems to see blood on her hands. She claims that nothing will ever wash it off. She leaves and the doctor and gentlewoman think that Lady Macbeth has gone mad.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 2:

A group of Scottish lords discusses the military situation. The English army approaches. It is led by Malcolm. It will meet the Scottish army near Birnam Wood. Macbeth has fortified Dunsinane Castle. He is making his military preparations for the upcoming battle.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 3:

Macbeth boasts proudly that he has nothing to fear from the English army or from Malcolm. He claims so because he has faith in the prophecies of the witches. His servant Seyton confirms that an army of ten thousand Englishmen approaches the castle. Macbeth orders the doctor to cure Lady Macbeth of her delusions.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 4:

Malcolm talks to the English lord Siward and his officers about Macbeth’s plan to defend the fortified castle.

They decide that every soldier should cut down a bough of the forest and carry it in front of him as they march toward the castle.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 5:

A woman’s cry is heard and Seyton tells Macbeth that the queen is dead. Macbeth is shocked. A messenger enters with the astonishing news that the trees of Birnam Wood are marching toward Dunsinane. Terrified and enraged, Macbeth recalls the prophecy that said he could not die till Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane. He says that he is tired of the sun and that at least he will die while fighting.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 6:

Outside the castle, the battle starts. Malcolm commands the English soldiers to throw down their boughs and draw their swords.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 7:

On the battlefield, Macbeth strikes those around him with full vigor. He is furious because no man born of a woman can harm him. He kills Lord Siward’s son and disappears. Macduff emerges and searches frantically for Macbeth because he wants to cut him down personally. Malcolm and Siward enter the castle.

Macbeth Summary Act 5 Scene 8:

Macbeth at last encounters Macduff. They start fighting. Macbeth suddenly fears for his life, but he declares that he will not surrender. Malcolm and Siward walk together in the castle, which they have now almost captured. Ross tells Siward that his son is dead.

Macduff emerges with Macbeth’s head in his hand and proclaims Malcolm King of Scotland. Malcolm declares that all his thanes will be made earls. They will be the first such lords in Scottish history. Cursing Macbeth and his queen, Malcolm calls all those around him his friends. He invites all of them to see him crowned.

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