Macbeth Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Macbeth Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text. The summary contained in the following boxes is taken from the Absolute Shakespeare website.
Read a Macbeth Commentary on the same website. Macbeth Commentary provides a comprehensive description of every act with explanations and translations for all important quotes.
Also, read a Detailed Summary of Macbeth
Also known as "The Scottish play", Shakespeare's dark, grim tragedy begins with Three Witches in Scotland deciding to meet again after a battle being fought nearby. Thunder, storms and the desolate heath paint a gloomy picture, setting the tone of this play and defining an imagery of nature at war with itself, a recurring theme in this play...
Macbeth is introduced as the brave man who led King Duncan's forces to victory against the traitorous Thane of Cawdor, Macdonwald and The King of Norway, in a battle that could have gone either way were it not for Macbeth's leadership. We learn that Macbeth killed Macdonwald himself in battle. King Duncan, overjoyed, decides to make Macbeth his new Thane of Cawdor. The previous Thane of Cawdor will be executed.. more
Banquo and son Fleance arrive at Macbeth's castle. Banquo is troubled by the Three Witches' prophecy and tells Macbeth this. Macbeth pretends not to take the Three Witches seriously.
Learning from Banquo that King Duncan is asleep, Macbeth, alone, follows an imaginary dagger to King Duncan's bedchamber where he will kill him in his sleep... Lady Macbeth has drugged King Duncan's guards, allowing Macbeth to kill King Duncan unchallenged.
Lady Macbeth was to have killed the King but his resemblance to her late father means Macbeth does the deed instead. A bell frightens Lady Macbeth and Macbeth too is nervous, but he announces that he did indeed kill King Duncan....more
Banquo is fearful that the Three Witches' prophecies are becoming true, questioning whether Macbeth played most foully for it, or killed King Duncan to make prophecy, fact.
Meeting with Macbeth, Macbeth continuously asks Banquo of his travel plans and those of his son. Alone, Macbeth fears that Banquo's sons will mean his dynasty will be short-lived; only he will become King of Scotland and not his sons who will be replaced by those of Banquo's lineage.
Macbeth arranges for several Murderers to discreetly kill Banquo and Fleance to ensure his sons and not Banquo's become future kings....more
A major turning point in the play. Just as the Three Witches prophesied Macbeth's ascendancy to become King in Act I, Scene III, here they prophesies his downfall with the Three Apparitions (visions / ghosts). The first Apparition tells an eager Macbeth that he should fear Macduff, saying "beware Macduff; / Beware the Thane of Fife." The Second Apparition reassures Macbeth that "none of women born / Shall harm Macbeth" and the Third Apparition tells Macbeth he has nothing to fear until "Great Birnam wood" moves to "high Dunsinane hill" near his castle....more
Lady Macbeth's insanity becomes clear... First her Doctor and a Gentlewoman discuss Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking and talking to herself and then we, the audience see this for ourselves.
Lady Macbeth makes her famous speech that she cannot wipe away the blood on her hands (or her guilt), indicating that her battle to suppress her guilty conscience has failed completely...
Macbeth's enemies gather near his castle at Dunsinane as Macbeth strongly fortifies his castle. We learn that Macbeth's hold on Scotland is less than absolute......more