Simple Summaries



Simple Summary by Sarah Frank

Act 1 Scene 1

• Notes

o Three witches talk together during a thunderstorm.

o They plan to meet on the moorland again before sunset –knowing Macbeth will be there. o Every detail of the first short scene evokes the supernatural.

o World of unnatural witches

• Quotes

o “When shall we three meet again?” – sundown

o “When the hurly burly’s done done; when the battle is lost and won.” : Macbeth is at battle and will win then meet them

o “Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air” ; these ending lines show us this world is bloody, dark, unnatural

Act 1 Scene 2

• Notes

o Transitions to the world of Scottish King Duncan (natural now)

o King Duncan receives reports of battles being fought against his enemies.

o The reports stress the heroism of Macbeth and indicate his loyalty.

o Duncan condemns the Thane of Cawdor to death for treachery.

o In gratitude, Duncan awards Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor.

o There is dramatic irony in this scene. Banquo is said to be as valiant as Macbeth but is still overlooked by the king while Macbeth is honored.

o The audience knows Macbeth will become the next Thane of Cawdor except Macbeth because he’s coming straight from battle.

• Quotes

o “Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements.”: Macbeth is a bloody killer!

o “Norway himself, with terrible numbers, Assisted by that most disloyal traitor, The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” – Macbeth is going to become Thane of Cawdor

Act 1 Scene 3

• Notes

o Back to witches

o One witch says this one woman had nuts and wouldn’t share so she cursed her husband (a sailor)

o They cast a spell

o Macbeth and his buddy Banquo come

o The witches give Macbeth the idea that he will become king/thane; they hail him as such

o Macbeth wants the king to die so he could take over

o Lady Macbeth is very evil and once she receives a letter from Macbeth saying witches said he’d be king, she’s all up to make it happen (aka killing the king)

o This scene shows the witches’ impact on Macbeth and Banquo: Macbeth will be king and Banquo’s kids will be king

• Quotes

o “I’ll drain him dry as hay. Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his penthouse lid. He shall live a man forbid.” : the witch is cursing the sailor

o “The Weïrd Sisters, hand in hand, Posters of the sea and land, Thus do go about, about, Thrice to thine and thrice to mine. And thrice again, to make up nine. Peace, the charm’s wound up.” (while dancing in a circle) – spell

o The witches give Macbeth an idea that he will become king/thane:

 The first witch says: “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!”

 The second witch says: “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!”

 The third witch says: “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!”

o “What, can the devil speak true?” and “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s In deepest consequence.” show us that Banquo does not trust the witches

Act 1, Scene 4

• While at the Palace at Forres, Malcolm (King Duncan’s oldest son) says they are going to execute the Thane of Cawdor for treason

• King Duncan greets Macbeth and Banquo very politely and says that Malcom is heir to the throne. • Macbeth wonders why Malcom is the heir and how to make it him

• King Duncan literally invites himself to be Macbeth's guest at Inverness. • Macbeth goes to tell his wife about everything

• Shakespeare uses disguise

• “There’s no art/to find the mind’s construction in the face: Appearance versus reality. People can pretend to be something thy are not.

Act 1, Scene 5

• Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband.

• She immediately looks forward to the fulfilment of the Witches’ prophecy but believes Macbeth is too mild to seize the throne.

• Lady Macbeth is ruthless and ambitious

• Their relationship is very….odd

• Banquo warns them

Act 1 Scene 6

• Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle.

• He is full of compliments towards Lady Macbeth and she returns them.


• THE emphasis of this scene ids on peace, trust and courtesy but we remember Lady Macbeth's advice:

• Look” like the innocent flower but be the serpent undert .” THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS Act 1 Scene 7

• Is Lady Macbeth dominating or ambitious?

• Macbeth’s inner debate

o I should kill Duncan quickly

o But this might be too big of a deal to do quickly

o Worries about karma and divine judgment o I am his kinsmen (cousin) and his subject so I should be loyal

o Everyone loves Duncan so killing him would make everyone sad

o He’s a good king but very meek

o “I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition” (the only reason to do it is because of his ambition and desire to be king)

• Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill the king

o Says Macbeth needs to be a man

o Says she’d kill her child before not coming through on a commitment

 “I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this”

• They plan to get the officers drunk (poison?) and kill Duncan then make it seem like the officers did it

Act 2 Scene 1

• Banquo can’t sleep because he dreamt of the weird sisters (witches)

• Macbeth lies and says he doesn’t think about them

• Macbeth says “If you shall cleave to my consent, when ’tis, It shall make honor for you” basically saying to get on his side

• Banquo makes it clear he will only act honorably: “In seeking to augment it, but still keep My bosom franchised and allegiance clear, I shall be counseled.”

• Macbeth has, like, a psychotic break

Act 2 Scene 2

• Macbeth stabs Duncan

• Lady Macbeth says she would have done it but Duncan looks like her dad

• Macbeth is like “AHHHH”

• Macbeth brings the knives with him for some reason? Lady Macbeth says to leave them with the guards and smears blood over them Act 2 Scene 3

• A porter answers the knocking (comic relief)

o “If a man were porter of hell gate, he should have old turning the key”: letting the sinners in

• Macduff and Lennox come in

o Macduff coming in first foreshadows his later fight with Macbeth

• Macduff complains that the porter was too slow to answer

• The porter rambles about alcohol and sex

• Macbeth comes in and Macduff asks if the king is awake

o Macbeth says “’Twas a rough night.”

• Macduff says Duncan asked to see him early that morning

• Macbeth says that Duncan is sleeping and offers to take Macduff there

• Macduff enters the king’s chamber and then runs out yelling saying the king is dead

o “Confusion now hath made his masterpiece. Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope The Lord’s anointed temple and stole thence The life o’ th’ building” (this murder took our leader/king!)

• Macbeth and Lennox run into look and then Lady Macbeth is suddenly there? Pretending to be horrified….LOL

• Everything erupts and everyone finds out

o “Renown and grace is dead. The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees Is left this vault to brag of.” (Macbeth pretends to be upset)

• Malcolm and Donalbain arrive on the scene and are told their dad is dead

• A finger is pointed at the guards since they were found with bloody daggers

• Macbeth says he killed the guards/chamberlains to avenge him

o He just didn’t want them to talk

• Macduff is suspicious of all the deaths

• Macbeth explains that he couldn’t stop himself rom avenging Duncan

• Lady Macbeth faints and they call for help

• Malcolm and Donalbain say to each other that they are probably in danger since their father was murdered so they should separate and run away

o They plan to run away to different countries (England and Ireland)

• Banquo and Macbeth get all the lords together to meet and discuss the murder. Duncan’s sons resolve to flee the court.

• They agree to get to the bottom of it

o “I fight Of treasonous malice” says Banquo

o “As do I” says Macduff

Act 2 Scene 4

• Ross (a thane?) and an old man are talking about how weird the past few days are

• The king’s horses go wild and eat each other??

• Macduff tells Ross that Macbeth is now king and will be crowned

• Macduff says the guards/chamberlains are the most likely culprit and might have been hit men

• They are also suspicious of Duncan’s kids since they ran away

Act 3 Scene 1

• Banquo says: “Thou hast it now—king, Cawdor, Glamis, all As the Weïrd Women promised, and I fear Thou played’st most foully for ’t. Yet it was said It should not stand in thy posterity, But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings”

o “Thou” = Macbeth

o He’s like “yeah, the witches said you’d get all this but you aren’t being honorable”

o He’s also like “wait, if this came true for Macbeth, won’t it come true for my kids too?”

o He references the fact that the witches predicted his kids would be kings

• Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ask Banquo to attend their feast and he accepts

• Macbeth wants to find and punish Malcom and Donalbain, he thinks they might be plotting against him

• Macbeth thinks Banquo is against him

• Macbeth is salty that Banquo’s kids are in line for the throne, not him: “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my grip, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding”

• He still feels guilty for killing the king and is worried that Banquo’s sons might do the same

• “Hath so incensed that I am reckless what I do to spite the world” says one of the murderers

Act 3 Scene 2

• Lady Macbeth says “Naught’s had, all’s spent, Where our desire is got without content” (they got what they wanted but they aren’t happy)

• “’Tis safer to be that which we destroy, Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy” (she learned her lesson!)

o This is where her thought process diverges from Macbeth’s

• Lady Macbeth says that it’s over and there’s nothing they can do: “Things without all remedy Should be without regard. What’s done is done.”

• Macbeth realizes he was treasonous and the reason Duncan is dead: “Duncan is in his grave. After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst”

• Lady Macbeth says to get over it: “Come on, gentle my lord, Sleek o’er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial Among your guests tonight.

• Macbeth is feeling guilty and crazy: “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!”

• Basically, they are unhappy and crazy

Act 3 Scene 3

• Three murderers hanging out in a park

o Is the third Macbeth?

• Banquo and his son Fleance hop off their horses and light a torch

• The murders kill Banquo

• Banquo yells to his son to run and later avenge him

• Fleance runs away in the dark

• The murderers go to tell Macbeth that they killed Banquo but not Fleance Act 3 Scene 4

• They’re at the feast

• The murder tells Macbeth that Banquo’s throat was slit but that Fleance escaped

• Macbeth is like “UGH, Fleance is the one that might take my thrown”

• The murder says Banquo is in a trench, definitely dead

• Lady Macbeth is talking to him (“From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony; Meeting were bare without it”

• The Ghost of Banquo sits in Macbeth’s place

• Lennox and Ross (two thanes) start talking with Macbeth

• Macbeth talks to the ghost: “Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake Thy gory locks at me” but no one else can see it

• The people think Macbeth is unwell (“Gentlemen, rise. His Highness is not well.” – Ross)

• Lady Macbeth is says don’t worry, he’s just crazy and always has been (“Sit, worthy friends. My lord is often thus And hath been from his youth.”)

• Macbeth is going crazy and yelling and talking to the ghost

• Lady Macbeth asks “Are you a man?” (questioning his manhood)

• Macbeth is crazy but ANYWAY sleepy time

Act 3 Scene 5

• The 3 witches are meeting Hecate

• Hecate says to call Macbeth back and they will plan his downfall

Act 3 Scene 6

• Lennox starts piecing it together, that Macbeth is the killer

• Lennox is starting to doubt that it was Donalbain and Malcom (the current story)

• The lord Lennox is talking to hopes Duncan’s sons will come back, kill Macbeth, and take their rightful place

Act 4 Scene 1

• The 3 witches are all together, brewing a potion and dancing around their cauldron

• “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

• “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks”

• Macbeth arrives and calls them hags

o “I conjure you by that which you profess (Howe’er you come to know it), answer me.”

• The witches ask what he wants to know

• The witches summon Apparitions from the cauldron

• The first apparition is an armed head and says: “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff!”

• The second apparition is a bloody child and says: “Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth”

• The third apparition is a crowned child holding a tree: “Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are. Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him.”

Act 4 Scene 3

• Malcom decides he wants to take his army to take back his kingdom

• He says he wants to be a worst king than Macbeth (rape women, cheat people) as a test of Macduff

• Macduff and Malcom join forces once Macduff proves he is sincere

• Ross tells Macduff his whole family is dead

• Macduff is sad then angry, determined to get back at Macbeth

Act 5 Scene 1

• Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking and confesses to her and Macbeth murdering the king

• She repressed what she did and it drives her crazy

o Different than Macbeth, who accepted it and drove him crazy

• Lady Macbeth says “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”

• Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking and confesses to her and Macbeth murdering the king

o The doctor and a random lady overhear

Act 5 Scene 2

• Lennox and the other soldiers discuss Malcom’s army (they’re at Birnam Wood)

• Macbeth is trying to stay safe in Dunsinane

• The lords say they are following Macbeth out of fear

• Angus says: “Now does he feel his title Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe Upon a dwarfish thief”

o They loved Duncan, they fear Macbeth

• They go to join Malcom

Act 5 Scene 3

• “Macbeth dismisses reports of invasion by trusting to the prophecies of the apparitions, which seemed to promise him invincibility in battle. When a servant enters to announce the approach of a huge army, Macbeth appears momentarily to lose courage and then angrily spurns his servant and orders his armor to be put on. The Doctor, whose news concerning Lady Macbeth is just as grim, is treated with similar contempt.”

Act 5 Scene 4

• “In Birnam Wood, Malcolm walks with Macduff, Siward, Young Siward, and others Scottish and English lords. Malcolm gives orders that to hide the size of their army, all soldiers should cut a branch from a tree and hold it upright as they march.”

Act 5 Scene 5

• “Now fully armed, Macbeth confidently turns all his scorn on the advancing armies, only to find his brave rhetoric interrupted by an offstage shriek. The queen is dead — whether by her own hand is not made clear — and Macbeth is left to contemplate a lonely future of endless tomorrows "signifying nothing." Yet another blow comes with the announcement that Birnam Wood appears to have uprooted itself and is even now advancing towards Dunsinane. Again Macbeth recalls the prophecies of Act IV, sure of, but still wishing to deny, their powerful truth.”

• Macbeth shows that he finally understands he dug his own grave:

o “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.”

Act 5 Scene 6

• Malcom and his soldiers arrive at Dunsinane

• This fulfills the witches’/aspirations’ prophecy, that Birnam wood has come to Dunsinane.

Act 5 Scene 7

• “In a scene that foreshadows the final destruction of a tyrant in single combat, Macbeth is challenged by the courageous son of Siward. Immediately afterwards, Macduff is seen eagerly seeking out the man who was responsible for the murder of his family. Lastly, it is announced that Macbeth's forces have surrendered Dunsinane castle. But the business is not yet finished.”

Themes and traits:

• Evil

o Evil slithers out and destroys everything

o Selfishness is at the root

o Evilness is almost like a disease, it spreads

o Macbeth is described as a butcher and Lady Macbeth is described as fiend-like

• Appearance vs reality

o Evil lurks behind a mask

o What seems good is bad and what’s bad is good

• Guilt and conscience

o Lady Macbeth represses her guilt and goes crazy

o Macbeth acknowledges his guilt and goes crazy

• What it means to be a man

o He originally got the title of Thane of Cowdor because he killed a bunch of traitors at the beginning (he saved the kingdom before he destroyed it)

o Men are defined by their battles, triumphs, kills, and bravery

o Macbeth and Banquo were both warriors

• Greed

o Ambition can be a good trait to a certain extent but Macbeth’s ambition comes at the cost of other people’s demises, such as the king.

o Macbeth’s greed is fed by Lady Macbeth encouraging him and questioning his manhood.

• Free will

o The witches and Lady Macbeth encouraged Macbeth that he could be king if he killed Duncan

o Would he have killed Duncan if the witches had never told him he could be king?

o I say that Macbeth’s actions were predetermined by the information he received from the witches and his love for power. However, he still had the free will to choose what he did. Tragic Hero Status?

• A tragic hero is the protagonist of a tragedy

• Macbeth recognizes his own mistakes and says he deserves nothing

• Macbeth seems to have learned his lesson and understood there are naturally consequences.