Shakespeares Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
Macbeth consists of five major acts, each with a variation of scenes. The story tells of one man’s quest for dominance in the Scottish monarchy structure, and how his future becomes a twisted paradox that brings him nothing but trouble. In the first act, Macbeth is visited by two witches that tell him prophecies of the future. The tales tell of Macbeth becoming king, and Banquo founding a line of kings. Macbeth then becomes obsessed with finding a way of killing King Duncan. Later in the act, Macbeth is summoned by Duncan in congratulations of his battle victory. The second act is one of, if not, the important acts in the play. Macbeth kills the king in his sleep as Lady Macbeth awaits him back in their quarters. When he comes back, he has blood on his hands. She urges him to wash them, as she puts the daggers near the grooms. When Macduff enters, everyone is alerted of the king’s death. The chase is afoot to find the killer. As the third act unfolds, Macbeth is now the proclaimed king. At a ceremonial banquet in his honor, Macbeth is tormented by his visions of Banquo. He plans to have Banquo and his son Fleance murdered. The attempt is somewhat successful, as Banquo is killed but Fleance manages to escape. In the last few scenes of this act, Macbeth is plagued by the ghost of Banquo. People start to suspect something suspicious of Macbeth. The fourth act starts off, once again, with Macbeth visiting the witches. They tell him that he will not be harmed by a woman, and that he will not be vanquished until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Macbeth has Lady Macduff and her son killed. When Macduff learns about this news, he vows to kill Macbeth when he meets him on the field of battle. He and Malcolm start to conjure up plans to invade Macbeth’s castle. The fifth act of Macbeth is the final chapter in this play. Lady Macbeth has been suffering from mental instability and sleepwalks around the castle. As Macbeth gets ready for battle, he learns that his wife has commited suicide (what a way to go). Life is now meaningless to him. It seems he wants to become a martyr. The battle begins, and Macbeth’s forces are severly weakened. Macbeth fights to the death and is finally killed by Macduff.
Acts & Scenes
Act One 7 Scenes
Act Two 4 Scenes
Act Three 6 Scenes
Act Four 3 Scenes
Act Five 9 Scenes
Acts: 5, Scenes: 29
Act I, Scene i: Amid thunder and lightning, Macbeth meets with the three witches after he successful wins a battle. The witches agree to meet again on the heath.
Act I, Scene ii: King Duncan is told of the good news from the battlefront. Macbeth has killed Macdonwald, a traitor. After he wins the battle against Norwegian forces, the king learns that the Thane of Cawdor has assisted them. The thane is executed, and Macbeth now holds the title of the Thane of Cawdor.
Act I, Scene iii: The three witches appear on the heath in the midst of thunder. When Macbeth and Banquo arrive, they tell the two of their prophecies. They hail Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor, who will be king. Banquo is said to be one who is lesser than Macbeth and greater, less fortunate and more fortunate. When Macbeth asks the witches how he will become the Thane of Cawdor, since the title bearer still lives, the three witches vanish. At that moment, Ross enters to announce Macbeth’s new title.
Act I, Scene iv: Macbeth is summoned by the king to congratulate him on his victory. At that moment, Duncan announces that Malcolm will become heir to the throne. Macbeth is clearly disappointed by this news. Duncan, as a mark of his favor, proposed to visit Macbeth’s castle at Inverness.
Act I, Scene v: Lady Macbeth is reading a letter from her husband that tells of his encounter with the witches. A messenger arrives to inform her that Duncan will be there that very night. Lady Macbeth calls on the spirits of evil/darkness to make her stronger.
Act I, Scene vi: Duncan, upon his arrival, finds Macbeth’s castle to be pleasantly situated. He greets Lady Macbeth, as Macbeth himself is not present. The banquet proceeds.
Act I, Scene vii: Macbeth, troubled by his thoughts, leaves the banquet hall before the ceremonial supper for Duncan is over. He has doubts about killing the king. Lady Macbeth, worried, joins him. Macbeth protests that they will not go through with the murder. His wife, however, pursuades him to continue.
Act II, Scene i: It is nighttime and everyone is asleep. Banquo lies awake, worrying that he will once again see the witch’s prophecies. Macbeth then comes and tells Banquo the good news. The kings servants are asleep. When Macbeth leaves, Banquo finally falls asleep and then envisions a dagger in the air leading him towards the sleeping king. A bell rings, which is a signal from Lady Macbeth that the time is right to enter Duncan’s chamber.
Act II, Scene ii: Lady Macbeth waits for her husband to kill the king. She tells herself that she herself is tense, and needs the help of alcohol. When Macbeth returns, he tells her he heard another prophecy: “Macbeth shall sleep no more”. She sees the bloody knives and takes them back to the king’s quarters. She and Macbeth then return to changee their bloody clothes, and to wask their hands.
Act II, Scene iii: The castle porter wakes up from his sleep when he hears a knock at the door. He pretends to be the gatekeeper of hell. Macduff and Lennox enter to wake Duncan early. Macbeth comes to investigate. Macduff returns, shouting that the king has been killed. Macbeth plays along, and reveals that he killed Duncan’s two servants, telling everybody that he killed them in rage. Lady Macbeth then faints to keep the heat off of MB. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain flee, scared for their lives.
Act II, Scene iv: The next day after the murder, the kings sons are accused of murder. Duncan’s body has been buried and Macbeth has been named king. Ross decides to attend the ceremonies, while Macduff refuses. He then returns home to Fife, thinking that the last few events have turned for the worst.
Act III, Scene i: Macbeth now resides at Forres. Banquo suspects Macbeth might have killed the king but wants it to remain secret so his prophecies will come true. A banquet is announced that his son, Fleance, and himself were to go horseback riding. Macbeth then realizes the prophecies, and becomes obsessed with them. He decides to hire two murderers to kill Banquo and his son. During the evening (in scene three), Banquo is murdered but Fleance manages to escape.
Act III, Scene ii: The scene opens with Lady Macbeth showing her insecurity. Macbeth then enters and both of them are suffering from nightmares, restless sleep, and no appetites. Macbeth is hiding his plans from his wife. It is shown that MB’s feelings for his wife have changed somewhat.
Act III, Scene iii: Macbeth sends another murderer, trusting no one. He’s becoming paranoid. The three murderers kill Banquo while Fleance escapes. He now knows that Macbeth is a traitor. (Some believe that the third murderer was Macbeth himself.)
Act III, Scene iv: The banquet begins and the Macbeths welcome their guests. The first murderer enters and tells him of the bad news. Fleance has escaped. MB is disappointed with the news of Fleance. He wishes that Banquo would be here. The ghost of Banquo appears, and MB freaks out. Lady Macbeth calms him down. When Macbeth calls for a toast for Banquo, the ghost reappers. Lady Macbeth calms him down, and he then plans to visit the witches.
Act III, Scene v: Hecate, the queen of witches, meets with the three witches. She is angry and disappointed. The four witches then discuss their future plans. They plan to lead Macbeth to his downfall bu making him feel over-confident.
Act III, Scene vi: Lennox and other lords discuss that they believe that Macbeth has commited certain crimes. MB is furious at Macduff because he didn’t attend the banquet. Malcolm is safe at the King of England’s court. Macduff and Malcolm join to meet to discuss military assistance from England to attack Macbeth. MB makes plans for defense. Scotland is in chaos.
Act IV, Scene i: The scene opens with the three witches once again, brewing a spell. Macbeth enters, demanding answers for his questions. The witches tell him distorted prophecies, in form of apparations. They tell him to be beware of Macduff and that he will be defeated only when the trees of Burnam Wood move towards his castle. He again believes the truth of the prophecies. When MB curses the witches in rage, they disappear. Lennox enters the cave to tell Macbeth that his messengers have brought news that Macduff has fled to England. Macbeth now vows to kill Macduff’s family.
Act IV, Scene ii: Lady Macduff complains about her husband’s absence. Ross then replies how Scotland has changed under Macbeth’s rule. A messenger bursts in, telling Lady Macduff of danger. It is too late, the murderers sent by Macbeth, enter. They kill Ross and Lady Macduff, completing their mission.
Act IV, Scene iii: Macduff arrives at the court of Edward the Confessor, King of England (what a name). He meets Malcolm and attempts to convince him that they should prepare to invade Scotland. After moments of questioning himself and others, Malcolm test succeeds. Ross arrives from Scotland and speaks of the murder. Macduff vows to kill Macbeth (doesn’t that sound familiar).
Act V, Scene i: The Macbeths now reside at Dunsinane Castle for better fortification. The doctor starts to worry about Lady Macbeth. He has seen her sleepwalking, always with a candle, talking of the “blood on her hands” (a parallel to the murder scene). The doctor realizes that he cannot cure such mental instability and suspects she is suicidal.
Act V, Scene ii: An army led by the Scotch nobles Menteith, Carthness, Angus and Lennox is marching near Burnam Wood to join the English army lead by Malcolm, Siward and Macduff. There is news that MB is fortifying his castle.
Act V, Scene iii: Macbeth is in a frenzy about the defection of his thanes. He orders his armour to be put on so he is battle ready. The doctor tells him that his wife is disturbed mentally, not physically. Macbeth gets distracted after learning about the illness of his country and his wife.
Act V, Scene iv: The battle begins as Malcolm orders his troops to hack off the boughs of Birnam Wood. They recieve news that MB, seeing his loses of men to the enemy, still decides to continue on, whether it means life or death.
Act V, Scene v: Macbeth proclaims that he will wait out the invading forces. After a scream is heard, a servant tells him of his wife’s death. After he contemplates the meaning of life, and the future, a messenger comes in to say that he has seen Birnam Wood moving. Macbeth orders his men out. At least they will die fighting.
Act V, Scene vi: On a plain before the castle, Malcolm commands his men to lay down their boughs, for they have come close enough. He marshalls the order of battle.
Act V, Scene vii: Macbeth, fighting desperately, confronts Young Siward, the son of the English general and kills him. Macduff enters, looking for him and gets distracted. Malcolm and Siward enter, and we learn that the castle has been given up by Macbeth’s men, who are really on the side of Malcolm (treacherous dogs).
Act V, Scene viii: Macduff finds Macbeth, and tells him to fight. Macbeth does not want to, saying that he has too much blood on his hands already, and tells Macduff that it is no use for Macduff to try to kill him. When Macduff replies that Macbeth should despair of his charm protecting him, Macbeth is for a moment daunted and refuses to fight. On being told, however, that he will be made captive to be exhibited to the population as a monster, Macbeth determines to fight to the end. Macbeth is then killed by the hands of Macduff.
Act V, Scene ix: In the castle, Malcolm expresses concern at the absence of Macduff and Young Siward. Ross informs Siward that his son died on the field of battle. Siward, on learning that his son died bravely, says that he could not have died better. Macduff enters with Macbeth’s head mounted on a pole and hails Malcolm as king of Scotland, a cry taken up by all. Malcolm rewards his friends by making them early, the first of that title in Scotland, and, promising to do everything necessary to set the kingdom to its previous glory, invites everyone to witness his coronation at Scone.