In 1606 the well-known English author William Shakespeare wrote the drama Macbeth. Five years later the premiere took place in the English capital London. The drama Macbeth is about evil in different manifestations. The drama draws astonishing parallels to real historical events that occurred in Scotland in the 11th century. The drama is primarily about Macbeth, who receives the prophecy from three witches that he will become king in the near future. However, Macbeth goes through a negative change and becomes a terrible tyrant who loses almost all positive qualities
In this article we are providing the Summary of Macbeth in simple English which is very easy to understand for any level of students.
The exposition of the drama Macbeth gives the reader an initial insight into the actions and the people involved. Before the conflict of the drama becomes apparent, the reader is informed of the basic constellations. To this end, the first act introduces the three witches who subsequently want to change the world. In addition, the reader gets information about the king and his sons as well as the generals Macbeth and Banquo. The three witches prophesy that Macbeth will later become king. For this reason he thinks about killing the current King Duncan and then taking the throne. At the end of the first act, however, Macbeth refrains from this plan for the time being. However, the Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill the king. Ultimately, Macbeth bows to her will and initially keeps up appearances. Nevertheless, the reader now knows the people involved and the situation that the witches prophesy Macbeth as the new king in the future.
Act 1 scene 1
The first scene takes place in 11th century Scotland. During a thunderstorm with thunder and lightning, three witches meet in a field and make an agreement that they want to visit Macbeth together. Macbeth is the leader of the Scottish Army at this time. The witches convey the intention that they want to decisively change the world of that time. At the end of the scene the witches announce their motto: “Beautiful is ugly, ugly is beautiful”.
Act 1 scene 2
Macbeth himself does not play a role in the second scene of Macbeth either. The then King of Scotland Duncan is in a field camp with his two sons Malcom and Donalbain. A captain meets the king and informs him about the course of the war against the Norwegian army and rebels. The enemy troops are said to have had an advantage in this battle. However, the two high-ranking officers Banque and Macbeth are very clever, so that ultimately their own troops were able to achieve victory. The end of the battle was the negotiation of a peace treaty with the Norwegian army. In addition, Norway had to pay a ransom because its own troops captured the Norwegian king. The rebels were killed or arrested in battle. King Duncan decides that one of the rebels, the Thane of Cawdor, will be executed. The vacated position will be taken over by Macbeth.
Act 1 scene 3
The three witches are still in the field saying different verses. They meet Macbeth and Banque, who are just leaving the battlefield. The two officers are initially shocked by the witches. These utter prophecies and refer to Macbeth as the Thane of Cawdor and also as the future king. Macbeth is impressed because he cannot yet believe the prophecy. Banquo also asks about his future. The witches answer that many of his descendants will become king. After Macbeth wants more information from the witches, they disappear without an answer. The two Scottish noblemen Ross and Angus come by for this. They tell Macbeth that he will be Thane of Cawdor. The first prophecy is already coming true. Macbeth is already thinking about his appointment as king and forges plans to assassinate King Duncan. After thinking for a moment, however, he suppresses it and decides to wait and see.
Act 1 scene 4
King Malcom’s son tells Duncan at Forres Castle that the traitorous Thane of Cawdor has already been executed. Duncan ponders the people because he trusted the Thane of Cawdor without reservation until shortly before. Then Macbeth and Banquo join, who are greeted by Duncan. Duncan proudly tells that his son Malcom will later become his successor and the next king. Macbeth sees Malcom as an obstacle because he wants to become the new king himself. However, he does not show his indignation. In the further course of the conversation, Duncan decides to spend the next night at Macbeth Castle in Inverness. Thereupon Macbeth sets off to prepare everything for the king.
Act 1 scene 5
Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth in which he tells of the prophecies of the witches. Lady Macbeth rejoices in the prophecies and ponders whether Macbeth is really unscrupulous and strong enough to overcome the obstacles to the coronation. Then a messenger informs her that Macbeth and King Duncan want to spend the night in the castle. She then worships diabolical forces that Macbeth does not want to have any scruples. In a subsequent conversation with Macbeth, Lady Macbeth implies her wish that Macbeth should kill King Duncan. Macbeth should first keep appearances until a suitable opportunity arises.
Act 1 scene 6
Duncan, King of Scotland, arrives at Inverness at Macbeth Castle with his entire entourage. At first glance, Duncan likes this area. He finds both the castle and the entire area beautiful and feels safe. Banquo immediately agrees with the king and confirms his assumption. Upon entering, the Lady Macbeth greets the King and all other visitors. When greeting, however, she mainly devotes herself to King Duncan and lulls him to safety. Then she brings the king to her husband Macbeth.
Act 1 scene 7
Macbeth ponders the planned assassination attempt on King Duncan. There are still considerable doubts in his mind. He is unsure whether he should really kill the king. Because such a murder is a blow against the God-given order. So Macbeth would face retribution. Moreover, Macbeth knows that the king trusts him completely. He doesn’t really want to abuse this trust. On the other hand is his ambition. Macbeth identifies this trait as the sole reason for the king’s murder. In a conversation he explains to Lady Macbeth that he does not want to kill the king. Then Lady Macbeth laughs at him and expresses doubts about his manhood. In the end, Lady Macbeth manages to convince her husband. Thereupon Lady Macbeth informs him of the murder plan and tells him again that he has to keep up appearances. Then both go to the dining room to eat with King Duncan.
1st Act at a glance:
Three witches meet in the open heath and await the Macbeth’s return from battle.
When King Duncan learns that his cousin Macbeth has won the battle for him, he wants to reward him for his loyalty with the title “Than of Cawdor”. His cousin Banquo is also said to have done bravely.
The witches meet up with Macbeth and Banquo. They prophesy to Macbeth that he will first become Thane of Cawdor and then king. Banquo learns that his children should also become kings.
When Macbeth receives the news that Duncan is giving him the title predicted by the witches, he becomes entitled to the title of king and he considers the murder of Duncan.
After the thanksgiving rallies for Macbeth, Duncan introduces his son Malcolm as heir to the throne and announces his visit to Macbeth in Inverness.
Lady Macbeth is intrigued by the prospect of the title of king. She fears that her husband will lack the ruthlessness to get rid of Duncans, so she conjures up demonic powers. Duncan is said to be murdered in Inverness that same evening.
When the unsuspecting Duncan and his entourage arrive, Macbeth has great doubts about the plan. He is afraid to load inextinguishable guilt on himself, but Lady Macbeth continues to bother him until he promises to commit the murder.
The second act of a drama is ideally the intensification. In this, the first decisive actions of the main characters take place, which ultimately ensure a dramatic increase. The protagonist and antagonist create a dramatic conflict. In the drama Macbeth, he kills the king by first turning off his weapons with a sleeping draft for his wife and then stabbing King Duncan. When noblemen like Macduff enter the castle, Macbeth leads them to the king’s room and pretends not to know anything. Macbeth quickly killed the guards because he had chosen them as the alleged murderer. At the end of the second act it is clear that Macbeth is to become king in the near future. Because the sons of King Duncan left the country for fear of a conspiracy.
Act 2 scene 1
Banquo walks with his son through the courtyard in the middle of the night. He suspects that something is wrong. While walking, Banquo meets Macbeth. On this occasion, Banquo Macbeth presents a diamond that King Duncan got especially for Lady Macbeth. Then they both talk about the witches. Macbeth pretends to stop thinking about the prophecies and the witches. Macbeth then sends a servant out to have Lady Macbeth prepare a sleeping draft for the king’s guards. When the soldiers are asleep, Macbeth wants to kill Duncan. When Macbeth is alone, he lets his mind wander. Suddenly a bell rings. Macbeth and his lady agreed on this sign to signal that the sleeping draft is ready. Macbeth kills Duncan with the dagger of his vallet.
Act 2 scene 2
Macbeth leaves the king’s room and tells his lady that he killed the king. Macbeth is completely confused and speaks of voices that have called out to him that he will never sleep again as a punishment. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he should bring back the murder tools, two daggers, in order to place them in the hands of the guards and thus to draw suspicion on them. Macbeth does not want this, however, so Lady Macbeth sets out on her own. Then the two want to wash and change clothes, while a loud knock can be heard at the castle gate.
Act 2 scene 3
The noblemen Macduff and Lenox stand in front of the castle and are admitted. The drunken porter opens the gate for them. Macbeth then brings Macduff to King Duncan’s room and lets him enter the room alone. Macduff then recognizes the regicide. Banquo, Lady Macbeth, and the King’s Sons all come to the scene. Macbeth, meanwhile, kills the king’s bloodied guards. Macduff then tells Lenox that Macbeth suspected the guards and immediately executed them. He then confronts Macbeth as to why the weapons were not allowed to defend themselves. Macbeth justifies this step with his love for King Duncan. At the same time, Lady Macbeth suffers a fit of weakness. However, this is only fake and is intended to distract the others from Macbeth. In the end, only the two sons of King Malcom and Donalbain remain in front of the room. Fearing a traitor in their environment, the two decide to leave the country.
Act 2 scene 4
An old man speaks to the nobleman Ross. Both discuss what happened last night. The old man says that a lot of crazy things have happened. Then Macduff arrives and tells that the king’s sons have fled. This escape seems very suspicious to him. Macduff also says that the lord of the castle Macbeth is nominated as the new King of Scotland. A short time later, Macbeth’s coronation is to take place in Scone. However, he himself does not want to take part in the coronation.
Act 2 at a glance:
During the night Macbeth imagines that he sees a dagger floating in the air in front of him. This illusion confirms his intentions, and he kills Duncan with the daggers of his valet. The servants have meanwhile been poisoned by Lady Macbeth. After his deed, Macbeth stares in bewilderment at his blood-smeared hands, and Lady Macbeth takes it upon himself to lay the wrong track.
Macduff discovers the regicide and death of the valet. When Macbeth claims to have killed the servants, Duncan’s entourage becomes suspicious. His sons Malcolm and Donalbain sense danger for themselves and flee Scotland.
With their escape, they come under suspicion of having tasked the servants with the murder of Duncan. Meanwhile, Macbeth is installed as the new king in Scone.
The third act is the climax of a drama. The voltage curve is now at the highest point. After Macbeth is established as the future king, he forges a plan to kill Banquo. Because the witches prophesied that in the future the sons and descendants of Banquo would represent the king. In the attempted murder, however, only Banquo is killed and his son Malcom is able to escape. At the same time, the three witches meet the goddess Hecate. This criticizes the witches for helping the tyrant Macbeth to power. So Hecate asks the witches to lull Macbeth to safety in order to ultimately bring him down. The turning point of the drama takes place in the last scene of the third act. Because Macduff and Malcom are at the court of the English king and intend with his help
Act 3 scene 1
Banquo is alone in a room in the castle. He almost suggests that all the witches’ prophecies for Macbeth have already been fulfilled. However, he is concerned that Macbeth has a hand in this. He himself hopes that the prophecy will also be fulfilled for him. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth join them. Macbeth speaks to Banquo and receives information about the route that Banquo would like to ride later. He passed this on to the killers in Banquo. A short time later, the murderers enter Macbeth’s castle. He is afraid that the murder of the king will ultimately only benefit Banquo and his children, so that he wants to get them out of the way. That’s why Macbeth wants to have Banquo and his son killed. In a conversation with the two murderers, Macbeth points out
Act 3 scene 2
Just before the banquet, Lady Macbeth speaks to Macbeth and expresses her dissatisfaction. She wants to get Macbeth to stop him planning any more murders. However, Macbeth sticks to his opinion and tells his lady that he considers the situation to be unsafe and that some murders are necessary. He only hints at the murder of Banquo and Fleance. He does not give Lady Macbeth any precise details. Rather, he asks her to treat Banquo and his son courteously while they eat.
Act 3 scene 3
A third joins the two murderers. All three killers are waiting for Banquo and Fleance, who arrive a short time later. During the night, the murderers attack the two. Banquo is killed in action while his son Fleance manages to escape. The killers then return to Macbeth Castle to make this report.
Act 3 scene 4
The royal banquet for the coronation of the new King Macbeth takes place. All the important nobles are there. Macbeth is informed by the murderers at the banquet that the plan did not work out and the son escaped. Macbeth is shocked. Nevertheless, he tries to keep appearances from his guests. When he loudly regrets Banquo’s absence, the ghost of Banquo appears, which only Macbeth can see. Then he starts talking to the mind. The Lords appear confused and insecure. Lady Macbeth tries to reassure the Lords and tells that Macbeth has suffered from an illness since childhood that causes such temporary seizures. After Lady Macbeth explains to Macbeth that it is just a hallucination, Macbeth calms down. But when Macbeth starts again the lady sends all guests away to avoid something worse. After the banquet, he notices that Macduff didn’t even get to the coronation. He makes the decision to send a spy to Macduff Castle. He also wants to meet the three witches again.
Act 3 scene 5
The three witches who revealed the prophecies to Macbeth some time ago meet with Hecate. Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft. She is extremely shocked by the behavior of the three witches. Because they made two mistakes. For one thing, the witches should have informed the queen of the plan. In addition, the witches helped the wrong person. The goddess Hecate tells the witches when and where Macbeth will visit the witches again. In addition, she orders the witches to give Macbeth new prophecies that are only intended to keep him safe.
Act 3 scene 6
A lord is discussing with the nobleman Lenox. Lenox takes the opportunity to express the suspicion that Macbeth murdered King Duncan. The Lord then announces that Macduff, too, has now fallen out of favor with Macbeth because he missed the royal banquet. Instead of attending the coronation, Macduff has made his way to England. There he is currently at the court of King Edwards of England, whom he would like to ask for military help. Together with the English army, Macduff then wants to overthrow the tyrant Macbeth. At the same time, Malcom, the son of Banquo, is also at the court of the English king.
Act 3 at a glance:
Macbeth has invited Banquo to a festive dinner as a guest of honor.
Banquo quietly suspects Macbeth of Duncan’s murder, while Macbeth fears Banquo’s cleverness. Contract killers should therefore kill Banquo and his son Fleance.
Lady Macbeth also begins to feel unsafe, but is not told about the plan.
Banquo is killed, but his son escapes. Macbeth has been informed of this and pretends in front of his guests that he particularly misses Banquo.
Banquo’s ghost appears and, to Macbeth’s horror, takes its own seat. Only Macbeth can see the ghost, and its panic behavior is incomprehensible to the round table. Lady Macbeth fears that her husband might betray himself and saves the situation by pleading a rare affliction for her husband. When the ghost appears a second time, Macbeth is so shocked that the feast has to be broken off.
Macbeth complains that Macduff did not accept his invitation. He wants to meet the witches again and question them. They are preparing to meet Macbeth.
In conversation with another lord, Lennox suspects Macbeth of the murders of Duncan and Banquo. Lennox knows that the disgraced Macduff is staying at the English royal court to seek assistance in overthrowing the tyrant.
The fourth act is the retarding moment. In this part of a drama there is a delay in disaster. For a short time it seems that a solution is in sight. However, this is not the case. In the drama Macbeth, he meets the witches again. These keep him safe with prophecies. For a short time, King Macbeth seems safe. When he learns of the traitor Macduff, he has his family left behind killed. Meanwhile in England Macduff and Malcom plan to kill Macbeth.
Act 4 scene 1
Macbeth meets with the three witches again. In conversation he asks the witches to make further prophecies about his future. In response, the witches conjure up three different apparitions that should shed light on Macbeth’s future. The first appearance is an armored head intended to serve as a warning against Macduff. The second apparition is a blood-smeared child, who is supposed to show Macbeth that no child in the world born to a woman can ever be dangerous to Macbeth. The third and final apparition is a child with a tree in hand and a crown. This tells him that he cannot be defeated until the forest reaches from Burma to Dunsinane.
But the three apparitions about his future are not enough for Macbeth. Rather, he would like to learn more about the future of the kings of Scotland from the witches. The witches then create an apparition with eight different kings. The last of these kings holds a mirror that reflects the previous kings. This is to mean that the descendants of Banquo will represent a long line of kings. Then the witches disappear and Lenox joins them. He tells Macbeth about Macduff and that he is currently in England at the king’s court. Macbeth decides to act quickly and intuitively in the future. Waiting is a thing of the past. Thus, Macbeth makes the decision to raid Macduff’s castle in order to kill the left Macduff family.
Act 4 scene 2
Ross, Lady Macduff and their son are talking. Lady Macduff complains about her husband’s treacherous behavior. First, the nobleman Ross tries to defend Macduff’s honor. Ultimately, this remains unsuccessful and he leaves the castle. The Lady Macduff then informs her son that his father is a traitor. A short time later, a messenger comes to the castle and warns the lady of a danger. Since Lady Macduff doesn’t know where to escape to, she stays in the castle. Then the murderers come, kill their son and pursue the fleeing Lady Macduff.
Act 4 scene 3
At the court of the English king, Macduff and Malcom talk about Macbeth. The goal of the two is to free Scotland from the tyrant Macbeth again. However, there is still distrust between Macduff and Malcom. Because Macduff has left his family alone in Scotland and Malcom fears that he is a spy. However, after testing, Malcom begins to trust Macduff. Ross arrives and tells Macduff about the murder of his family. Macduff desperately vows that he will kill Macbeth and seek revenge.
Act 4 at a glance:
During the meeting with the witches, Macbeth is warned about Macduff. He is asked to act cruelly and decisively, since no person born of a woman can harm him. He is also invincible until the forest of Birnam pulls against the mountain of Dunsinane. To his sorrow he also learns that Banquo’s descendants will one day wear the crown of Scotland.
When Macbeth hears that Macduff has fled to England, he decides to raid his castle. He has Macduff’s innocent family and entourage killed.
Meanwhile, Macduff and Malcolm plan the overthrow in Scotland with the help of English troops. The news of his family’s death reassures Macduff and he swears revenge.
The fifth act of a drama is the disaster or the solution. It depends on the type of drama. Usually at least one of the protagonists dies in the last part. Lady Macbeth feels a deep guilt for all of the murders. Ultimately, this goes so far that she is found dead. King Macbeth feels safe from the witches’ prophecies. When he learns of the approaching army from Malcom and Macduff, he has his castle converted into a fortress. More and more followers join the son of Banquo Malcom. Ultimately, Macbeth has to realize that the witches’ prophecies were ambiguous and were only intended to lull him into safety. In a fight with Macduff, Macbeth dies after abandoning the fortress. Malcom becomes the new King of Scotland.
Act 5 scene 1
Lady Macbeth is caught sleepwalking in the middle of the night by a doctor and a servant. The lady keeps rubbing her hands together. It seems as if the Lady Macbeth wants to wash invisible blood from her hands. Lady Macbeth’s broken down and ill shape is evident. During sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth talks confused and talks about the past murders of the old king, Banquo and the Macduff family. She feels very guilty. The doctor then recommends that she make confession with a priest. To protect herself from herself, he asks Lady Macbeth to remove all objects from the lock that she could use to injure herself.
Act 5 scene 2
Various Scottish nobles talk about Macbeth and his actions. Because Macbeth has the defense of the castle in Dunisnane reinforced at the same time. It is also about ensuring that many people in Scotland know about Macbeth and his crimes. There are also rumors about the English army with Malcom, which is expected to arrive near Birnam shortly. The nobles decide to join the fight of Malcom and Macduff against the tyrant Macbeth. So they make their way to Birnam.
Act 5 scene 3
More and more of Macbeth’s followers decide against their king. Thus the following of his enemies is growing. Despite everything, Macbeth is certain that he will win the battle against the other army. Because the witches’ prophecies were clear. Malcom became of a woman and all those people are supposed to be harmless to King Macbeth after all. Nevertheless, a large army was already approaching the castle at this time. Macbeth mocks his followers and becomes more and more unfriendly. He also sends riders out to kill everyone who is afraid of the approaching army. Macbeth then puts on his armor and asks the doctor about Lady Macbeth’s condition. He replies that it is a mental illness. Macbeth is not satisfied with this, however. He asks the doctor that he should find a cure as quickly as possible. At the end of the conversation, Macbeth repeats the prophecy again that there is no danger to him until the forest of Burma comes to Dunsinane.
Act 5 scene 4
Malcom’s English army arrives in Birnam. She is now not far from the castle in Dunsinane, where Macbeth lives. Sigward points out to Malcom that Macbeth will not flee, but will stay in the castle. Malcom orders his army to cut branches from trees. They should hold these in front of them so that Macbeth does not see how many people are really coming. Hence, a prophecy of the three witches is fulfilled. Because the forest comes from Birnam to Dunsinane.
Act 5 scene 5
Macbeth remains confident of victory. He says that he no longer knows fear and scruples. Seyton then informs him that Lady Macbeth has been found dead. Macbeth believes that life is pointless. However, it gets worse. Because a messenger arrives and informs him that the forest of Birnam Dusinane is approaching. Because the army armed with branches seems like a forest. Macbeth realizes that the witches have made him safe with ambiguous prophecies. He recognizes the hopeless situation and knows that he has no chance. So he decides to give up the siege and die fighting on the battlefield.
Act 5 scene 6
When the English troops are almost in front of the castle, Malcom orders that his soldiers should drop the branches. He instructs Siward and Madoff to begin the battle against the tyrant Macbeth.
Act 5 scene 7
Macbeth still has the witches’ prophecy in mind that only a person who was not born of a woman can kill him. In the fight he meets Siward’s son and kills him without further ado. Then Macbeth leaves the scene while Macduff describes his thoughts. Macduff has only one wish. He wants to track down Macbeth and then kill him. Siward says the battle is almost over. Because more soldiers from Macbeth change sides and are now fighting for Malcom. Even the castle of Macbeth has already been conquered. Siward then tells Malcom that they can now enter the castle.
Act 5 scene 8
Macbeth realizes that he lost the battle. Ordinarily, at this point, rulers would give up and end their lives on their own. But Macbeth still secretly believes in the witches’ prophecy. Macduff tracks down Macbeth, so the fight between the two begins. During the fight, Macduff tells that he was born through a caesarean section. Consequently, he was not actively born to a woman. The witches’ next prophecy comes true. Macbeth is so shocked that he doesn’t want to fight anymore. He realizes that his end is imminent and that all the prophecies of the three witches have been fulfilled. Nonetheless, he begins the fight and is killed by Macduff.
Act 5 scene 9
Siward says that Malcom’s army hardly suffered any casualties in the battle. Then Ross tells him that his son was killed by Macbeth. Siward shows himself to be a proud father because his death died a heroic death. Then comes Macduff with the head of Macbeth. He immediately welcomed Malcom as the new King of Scotland. Malcom then announces that the coronation will take place in Scone and that he will have all of Macbeth’s friends followed.
Act 5 at a glance:
Lady Macbeth cannot forget the murders, her conscience plagued, and while she sleepwalked she reveals her guilt in the presence of witnesses.
An army of loyal Scots wants to join the English troops and therefore moves to the forest of Birnam.
At Dunsinane Castle, Macbeth prepares for the battle ahead; because of the prophecies of the witches, he considers himself invincible. He is obsessed with the prophecies. Lady Macbeth is meanwhile declared insane.
All the troops against Macbeth have gathered in the forest of Birnam. Malcolm orders them to cut off branches and carry them in front of them as camouflage.
While Macbeth is waiting for the attack in Dunsinane, he learns of the death of his wife. Macbeth then declares life absurd and meaningless.
When he hears that the forest of Birnam appears to be moving towards Dunsinane, he is overcome with old fears and accuses the diabolical work of the witches.
Macbeth’s troops surrender to the overwhelming strength of the attackers under Malcolm, Macduff and Siward. Nothing stands in the way of Malcolm’s entry as the rightful king.
Macduff searches for Macbeth on the battlefield to avenge his family. Obsessed Macbeth continues to feel safe until Macduff confesses that he was born through a caesarean section. Macbeth curses the witches and warns of their devil’s work. He falls in a duel with Macduff.
The castle celebrates the liberation of Scotland from the tyrant, and Malcolm invites all followers to the coronation in Scone.