Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Home | Macbeth Vocabulary | Characters | Macbeth Questions | Literary Elements | Blank Verse | Summary of each Act | Writing assignments | Quotations page | Our review of the play

Macbeth

Summary of each Act
macbeth-1-t.jpeg

Act I:

This Act opens with the three witches setting up the entire theme of the play: Fair is foul and foul is fair. A war is taking place against Scotland and Norway. Scotland is victorious due to the valiant efforts of Macbeth. The traitorous Thane of Cawdor is captured and executed. King Duncan decides to reward Macbeth with the title of Thane of Cawdor to show his gratitude.

The scene shifts to the battleground where the three witches confront Macbeth and Banquo, telling Macbeth that he will become Thane of Cawdor and eventually king. Macbeth soon learns of his new title, fulfilling the first part of the prophesy, and sends word to his wife. King Duncan plans on staying the night at Macbeth's home.

Lady Macbeth receives the news and immediately plots the death of King Duncan so her husband will be king. Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth into following her plans, and he reluctantly agrees to murder Duncan. By the end of Act I, Macbeth is determined to follow through with the plan.

Act II:

Macbeth again has some doubts , but he soon talks himself into following through with the murder. Macbeth freaks out so Lady Macbeth finishes the rest of the plan by wiping blood on the drunk guards.

The next morning, Macduff and Lennox arrive at Macbeth's, and Macduff discovers the dead body of King Duncan. All are shocked and Macbeth plays his role to perfection. The guards are immediately suspect and Macbeth kills them so it doesn't appear as his fault.  Malcolm and Donalbain, the King's sons, flee the castle because they are afraid that they will be blamed for the murder of their father.

Act III:

Banquo begins to suspect Macbeth for the murder of King Duncan and Macbeth in turn feels that Banquo will reveal that it was he that killed the King. Therefore, Macbeth sends out three men to murder Banquo and his son, Fleance. Banquo is murdered, but Fleance escapes.

Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Lennox, Ross, and other lords attend a banquet. The ghost of Banquo presents itself to Macbeth. Macbeth begins to act like something is wrong , making the other guests uneasy. Lady Macbeth tries to cover up the situation by saying Macbeth is prone to  fits. By the end of this Act, we learn that Macduff has not attended the banquet because he has gone to England, looking for aid because he is suspicious of Macbeth.

Act IV:

Macbeth confronts the three Witches and they show him more visions. The visions lead Macbeth to believe that he cannot be killed by any man, giving him a false sense of security. He then plans to send murderers to the castle of Macduff  in order to kill his family.

Meanwhile, Macduff is in England begging Malcolm to return to Scotland and seize the throne from Macbeth who has become a tyrant. Malcolm tests Macduff's loyalty to Scotland and himself, and after being satisfied with Macduff's responses, he agrees to get the throne from Macbeth

Act V:

Lady Macbeth has finally gone crazy with guilt over the murders.  Doctors are unable to help her.

Some of the Scottish lords are discussing Macbeth's state of mind and have come to the conclusion that they will help Malcolm and Macduff fight against Macbeth. Of course, Macbeth isn't really concerned because the prophecy, he believes, insures that he cannot be killed by any man born of woman. Macbeth soon confronts Macduff and learns that Macduff was ripped from his mother's womb and not born naturally. Macbeth chooses to fight Macduff anyway.  Thus, Macbeth is killed by Macduff and Malcolm then becomes the rightful King of Scotland