13th April 2017

Macbeth, Act 1 Summary

Act 1, Scene 1 – Summary †

Characters: The three witches

Location: A desert place

Time: Unknown (before the end of the battle)

Events: The witches plan to meet again after the battle is over, they will meet Macbeth at the heath

Quote: “Fair is foul and foul is fair” – paradox

Act 1, Scene 2 – Summary †

Characters: King Duncan, Malcolm (thane/general) Captain  (wounded) Lenox, Rosse, Angus

Location: War Camp near Forres

Time: During the battle that was referenced by the three witches in the previous scene

Events: A wounded Captain briefs the king and his acquaintances on the happenings of the battle. Macbeth fought bravely/honourably and executed Macdonwald the battlefield after killing many of his men. A Norwegian king arrived but was also defeated by the Scottish army, and the victory was awarded to them. The Scotts will not allow the (Norwegian) king to bury his men (this is dishonourable/embarrassing/humiliating for him) unless they are given ten thousand dollars. King Duncan then implies that Macbeth will be made the King’s new thane as Macdonwald had betrayed the King.

Quote: “No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom interest. – Go, pronounce his present death, And with his former title greet Macbeth” – King Duncan

Act 1, Scene 3 – Summary †

Characters: Three witches, Macbeth, Banquo, Angus, Rosse

Location: A heath

Time: After the battle

Events: Macbeth and Banquo meet with the three witches, who tell them that in the future they will have conflict with each other, they will be in opposition. Macbeth is informed that he is thane of Glamis, Cawdor and will be King ‘hereafter’ Also, Banquo’s children shall be kings. Banquo is sceptical of the witch’s prophecy, and he issues a warning to Macbeth, to which he ignores. Macbeth becomes consumed by the thought of the prophecy and what could happen, ignores `Banquo.

Quote: “Come what come may, Time and hour runs through the roughest day” – Macbeth

Act 1, Scene 4 – Summary †





Quote: Black desires

Act 1, Scene 5 – Summary †

Characters: Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Messenger

Location: Macbeth’s castle

Time: After Macbeth’s meeting with the King

Events: Lady Macbeth learns of the most recent events through a letter written by Macbeth himself, she also learns that King Duncan is coming to their castle for the night. Lady Macbeth acknowledges he husband’s ambition but does not believe that he has the necessary ‘evil’ within him to commit such treason. (killing a king) She calls upon ‘the darkness’ to shield her from the light of heaven, and god so that her crime will be hidden, even from herself.

Quote: “Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t” – Lady Macbeth

Act 1, Scene 6 – Summary †

Characters: King Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macbeth, Donalbain, Lenox, Macduff, Rosse, Angus and Attendants

Location: Just before the castle, not actually in it yet

Time: As Duncan is arriving at the castle

Events: King Duncan arrives at the castle and is greeted by Lady Macbeth. (Short scene)

Act 1 Scene 7 – Summary †

Characters:  Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Servants

Location: A room inside the castle

Time: Straight after scene six

Events: Macbeth second guesses himself and his wife to kill the king, Macbeth has changed his mind about assassinating the king. Lady Macbeth argues against his choice and turns him back towards the plan

Quote: “I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other” – Macbeth saying he has no true reason to kill the king, only reason is his own ambition and greed.

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