- My Preferences
- My Reading List
- Literature Notes
- Macbeth at a Glance
- Play Summary
- About Macbeth
- Character List
- Summary and Analysis
- Act I: Scene 1
- Act I: Scene 2
- Act I: Scene 3
- Act I: Scene 4
- Act I: Scene 5
- Act I: Scene 6
- Act I: Scene 7
- Act II: Scene 1
- Act II: Scene 2
- Act II: Scene 3
- Act II: Scene 4
- Act III: Scene 1
- Act III: Scene 2
- Act III: Scene 3
- Act III: Scene 4
- Act III: Scene 5
- Act III: Scene 6
- Act IV: Scene 1
- Act IV: Scene 2
- Act IV: Scene 3
- Act V: Scene 1
- Act V: Scene 2
- Act V: Scene 3
- Act V: Scene 4
- Act V: Scene 5
- Act V: Scene 6
- Act V: Scene 7
- Act V: Scene 8
- Act V: Scene 9
- Character Analysis
- Lady Macbeth
- Character Map
- William Shakespeare Biography
- Critical Essays
- Major Themes
- Major Symbols and Motifs
- Macbeth on the Stage
- Famous Quotes
- Film Versions
- Full Glossary
- Essay Questions
- Practice Projects
- Cite this Literature Note
Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 1
Macbeth returns to the Weird Sisters and boldly demands to be shown a series of apparitions that tell his future. The first apparition is the disembodied head of a warrior who seems to warn Macbeth of a bloody revenge at the hands of Macduff . The second is a blood-covered child who comforts Macbeth with the news that he cannot be killed by any man "of woman born." The third is a child wearing a crown, who promises that Macbeth cannot lose in battle until Birnam wood physically moves toward his stronghold at Dunsinane.
Encouraged by the news of such impossibilities, Macbeth asks, "Shall Banquo's issue ever reign in this kingdom?" The Witches present an image of a ghostly procession of future kings, led by Banquo . All this serves only to enrage Macbeth, who, trusting in his own pride, reveals in an aside to the audience his determination to slaughter the family of Macduff.
This scene can be roughly divided into three: the Witches' casting of a spell; the supernatural answers to Macbeth's demands; and Macbeth's return to the cold world of political and social reality. The scene's structure deliberately recalls the opening scenes of the play. Once more, Macbeth's destiny is in question. Once more, he receives three prophecies. Once more, he is left on his own to decide how best to interpret those prophecies. And once more he fails to understand that Fate is inevitable, however he chooses to act.
The Witches' charm is fantastic: Its ingredients, thrown into a bubbling cauldron, are all poisonous. Moreover, these ingredients are all the entrails or body parts of loathed animals or human beings, which, taken together, can be interpreted as making a complete monster: tongue, leg, liver, lips, scales, teeth, and so on. The strong implication is that Macbeth himself is no longer a complete human being; he himself has become a half-man, half-monster, a kind of chimera.
Macbeth arrives at the Witches' lair with extraordinary boldness, knocking at the entrance in a way that ironically recalls the entry of Macduff into Macbeth's castle in Act II, Scene 3. When he "conjures" the Witches to answer him, his language is uncompromising: He matches their power with a powerful curse of his own, demanding to have an answer even if it requires the unleashing of all the elements of air, water, and earth; even if all the universe — natural or manmade — "tumble" into ruin. His most defiant act, by far, is to desire to hear the prophecy of his future not from the Witches, who are themselves only "mediums" of the supernatural, but from their "masters," that is, the controlling Fates.
Macbeth's demand is answered by a sequence of apparitions. Unlike the dagger and Banquo's ghost, these supernatural visions cannot be simply the workings of Macbeth's "heat-oppress'd brain." They are definitely summoned by the Witches. Once again, the audience is required to assess the extent to which Macbeth is responsible for his own actions. What is certain is Macbeth's response to each prophetic apparition: He appears to be super-confident, even flippant, in his replies. There is little fear or respect, for example, in his reply to the First Apparition: "Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks." And his punning reply to the Second Apparition's "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth" — "Had I three ears, I'd hear thee" — displays a comic arrogance.
Apart from the first, all the apparitions, including the fourth and final one of a procession of future kings, contain children. The juxtaposition of children (pictures of innocence) and images of death, warfare, and blood, is dramatic and terrifying, but especially so for Macbeth: For a man who has no offspring, the image of children can only fill him with hatred and loathing.
Having rejected as impossible the second two prophecies, Macbeth asks for one last favor. The result appalls him, drawing all strength from him and reducing his earlier courage. The children who appear in this procession are the children of Fleance. The reflected light of their golden crowns "does sear (cut into) mine eye-balls" and causes his eyes to jump from their sockets. The climax to Macbeth's reaction occurs in the line "What! will the line (of inheritance) stretch out to the crack of doom?" in which he finally realizes the possibility of an entirely Macbethless future.
In a scene rich with special effects — thunder, ghosts and (possibly flying) Witches — Shakespeare adds a final visual stroke: The eighth child-king carries a mirror that reflects the faces of many more such kings. The effect of infinite regression can be achieved by looking at a mirror while holding a smaller mirror in your hand in which the reflection is reflected.
The Witches confirm the inevitability of what Macbeth has seen: "Ay sir, all this is so." There can be no equivocation, no argument, with Fate.
Emerging into the cold light of day, Macbeth seems immediately to forget the final prophecy, as he returns to the practicalities of what is increasingly a battle for his own political survival. On being informed that Macduff has fled to England, he announces his intention to wreak a terrible revenge on Macduff's wife and children.
brinded (1) streaked
fenny (12) living in the marshes
howlet (17) young owl
yesty (53) frothing
lodg'd (55) beaten down
germens (59) seeds
farrow (65) litter of pigs
harp'd (74) guessed
impress (95) force
mortal custom (100) usual lifespan
crack of doom (117) Day of Judgment
antic round (130) mad dance
this great King (131) possibly a reference to James I (the king in Shakespeare's audience)
flighty . . . with it (145) Unless acted upon immediately intentions may be overtaken by time.
Previous Scene 6
Next Scene 2
has been added to your
Removing #book# from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title.
Are you sure you want to remove #bookConfirmation# and any corresponding bookmarks?
Macbeth - Act 4, scene 1
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
- PDF Download as PDF
- DOC (for MS Word, Apple Pages, Open Office, etc.) without line numbers Download as DOC (for MS Word, Apple Pages, Open Office, etc.) without line numbers
- DOC (for MS Word, Apple Pages, Open Office, etc.) with line numbers Download as DOC (for MS Word, Apple Pages, Open Office, etc.) with line numbers
- HTML Download as HTML
- TXT Download as TXT
- XML Download as XML
- TEISimple XML (annotated with MorphAdorner for part-of-speech analysis) Download as TEISimple XML (annotated with MorphAdorner for part-of-speech analysis)
Navigate this work
Act 4, scene 1.
Macbeth approaches the witches to learn how to make his kingship secure. In response they summon for him three apparitions: an armed head, a bloody child, and finally a child crowned, with a tree in his hand. These apparitions instruct Macbeth to beware Macduff but reassure him that no man born of woman can harm him and that he will not be overthrown until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane. Macbeth is greatly reassured, but his confidence in the future is shaken when the witches show him a line of kings all in the image of Banquo. After the witches disappear, Macbeth discovers that Macduff has fled to England and decides to kill Macduff’s family immediately.
Find out what’s on, read our latest stories, and learn how you can get involved.
by William Shakespeare
Macbeth summary and analysis of act 4, act 4, scene 1.
The witches circle a cauldron, mixing in a variety of grotesque ingredients while chanting "double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and cauldron bubble" (10-11). Hecate appears, they sing all together, and Hecate leaves. Macbeth then enters, demanding answers to his pressing questions about the future. The witches complete their magic spell and summon forth a series of apparitions. The first is an armed head that warns Macbeth to beware the Thane of Fife (Macduff). The second apparition is a bloody child, who tells him that "none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth" (96-97). This news bolsters Macbeth spirits. The third apparition is a crowned child with a tree in its hand, who says that "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him" (107-09). This cheers Macbeth even more, since he knows that nothing can move a forest. Macbeth proceeds to ask his last question: will Banquo's children ever rule Scotland?
The cauldron sinks and a strange sound is heard. The witches now show Macbeth a procession of kings, the eighth of whom holds a mirror in his hand, followed by Banquo. As Banquo points at this line of kings, Macbeth realizes that they are indeed his family line. After the witches dance and disappear, Lennox enters with the news that Macduff has fled to England. Macbeth resolves that he will henceforth act immediately on his ambitions: the first step will be to seize Fife and kill Macduff's wife and children.
Act 4, Scene 2
At Fife, Ross visits Lady Macduff, who is frightened for her own safety now that her husband has fled. He reassures her by telling her that her husband did only what was right and necessary. After he leaves, Lady Macduff engages her son in a conversation about his missing father. The little boy demonstrates wisdom well beyond his years. A messenger interrupts them with a warning to flee the house immediately. But before Lady Macduff can escape, murderers attack the house and kill everyone including Lady Macduff and her son.
Act 4, Scene 3
Macduff arrives at the English court and meets with Malcolm. Malcolm, remembering his father's misplaced trust in Macbeth, decides to test Macduff: he confesses that he is a greedy, lustful, and sinful man who makes Macbeth look like an angel in comparison. Macduff despairs and says that he will leave Scotland forever if this is the case, since there seems to be no man fit to rule it. Upon hearing this, Malcolm is convinced of Macduff's goodness and reveals that he was merely testing him; he has none of these faults to which he has just confessed. In fact, he claims, the first lie he has ever told was this false confession to Macduff. He then announces that Siward has assembled an army of ten thousand men and is prepared to march on Scotland.
A messenger appears and tells the men that the king of England is approaching, attended by a crowd of sick and despairing people who wish the king to cure them. The king, according to Malcolm, has a gift for healing people simply by laying his hands on them.
Ross arrives from Scotland and reports that the country is in a shambles. When Macduff asks how his wife and children are faring, Ross first responds that they are “well at peace” (180). When pressed further, he relates the story of their death. Macduff is stunned speechless and Malcolm urges him to cure his grief by exacting revenge on Macbeth. Macduff is overcome with guilt and sorrow from the murders that occurred while he was absent. Again Malcolm urges him to put his grief to good use and seek revenge. All three men leave to prepare for battle.
As the act opens, the witches carry on the theme of doubling and equivocation that threads throughout the play. As they throw ingredients into their cauldron, they chant "double, double, toil and trouble"—a reminder that their speech is full of double meanings, paradox, and equivocation (IV i 10). The apparitions that the witches summon give equivocal messages to Macbeth, and they appear to know quite consciously that he will only understand one half of their words. Although Macbeth himself has previously acknowledged that "stones have been known to move and trees to speak" (III iv 122), the apparitions give Macbeth a false sense of security. He takes the apparitions' words at face value, forgetting to examine how their predictions could potentially come true.
The theme of doubling is amplified when the witches summon the "show of kings." Each king who appears looks "too like the spirit of Banquo," frightens Macbeth with their resemblance (IV i 128). For Macbeth, it is as if the ghosts of Banquo have returned to haunt him several times over. In the procession of kings, Macbeth also notes that some carry "twofold balls and treble scepters"—as if even the signs of their power have been doubled.
On a historical note, it is generally thought the eighth king holds up a mirror in order to pander to James I. This last king—the eighth-generation descendant of Banquo—is none other than a figure of James I himself. He thus carries a mirror to signal as much to the real James I, who sits at the forefront of the audience. A similar moment of pandering occurs when Malcolm notes that the king of England has a special power to heal people affected by “the evil” (147). In various subtle ways, Shakespeare complimented King James I—a legendary descendant of Banquo and author of a book on witchcraft ( Daemonologie ).
James I is not the only character who is doubled in Macbeth . Throughout the play, characters balance and complement each other in a carefully constructed harmony. As a man who also receives a prophecy but refuses to act actively upon it, Banquo serves as sort of inverse mirror image of Macbeth. Although he has troubled dreams like Macbeth, his arise from the suppression of ambitions whereas Macbeth's arise from the fulfillment thereof. Other major characters, including Malcolm, Macduff, and Lady Macbeth , can also be seen as foils or doubles for Macbeth. Particularly interesting is the case of Lady Macbeth, who in some sense “switches roles” with Macbeth as the play progresses. Whereas she first advises Macbeth to forget all remorse and guilt, Lady Macbeth becomes increasingly troubled by her own guilt as Macbeth begins to heed her advice.
Another form of doubling or equivocation is found in the theme of costumes, masks, and disguises. While planning Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth counsels Macbeth to "look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under't"—to "beguile the time" by disguising his motives behind a mask of loyalty (I v 61). After the murder, Lady Macbeth paints the bodyguards' faces with a mask of blood to implicate them. Similarly, while preparing to kill Banquo, Macbeth comments that men must "make [their] faces visors to [their] hearts, / Disguising what they are" (III ii 35-36). Thus when Malcolm tests Macduff's loyalty, he begins appropriately by saying that "all things foul would wear the brows of grace" (IV iii 23). Even the most foul of men—perhaps like Macbeth and the murderers—are able to disguise themselves. Just as the witches’ equivocation covers up the true harm within their alluring words, disguises and masks hide the inner world from the outer.
Finally, during the scene in which the murders occur, Lady Macduff reflects the bird symbolism that began in Act 1. When Lady Macduff complains to Ross about the abrupt departure of Macduff, she states: "the poor wren / The most diminutive of birds, will fight, / Her young ones in her nest, against the owl" (IV ii 9-11). Her metaphor comes to life when she and her son are attacked by Macbeth's men. Macbeth, as earlier established, is identified with the owl; so Lady Macduff, trying to protect her son, becomes the wren in a realization of her own figure of speech. It is with particular pathos that the audience sees Macduff’s precocious son fall prey to the swords of Macbeth’s ruthless murderers.
Macbeth Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Macbeth is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 questions
What is significant about the first words that Macbeth speaks in the play?
A motif or recurring idea in the play is equivocation. There is the balance of the dark and the light, the good and the bad. Macbeth's first line reflects this. It...
What news took the wind out of Macbeth's invincibility?
Macbeth rethinks his invincibility when MacDuff tells him that he was torn from his mother's womb.
Did Banquo believe Ghosts? Why?
I'm sorry, are you asking if Banquo believed in ghosts? Based upon act and scene?
Study Guide for Macbeth
Macbeth study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About Macbeth
- Macbeth Summary
- Macbeth Video
- Character List
Essays for Macbeth
Macbeth essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
- Serpentine Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth
- Macbeth's Evolution
- Jumping the Life to Come
- Deceptive Appearances in Macbeth
- Unity in Shakespeare's Tragedies
Lesson Plan for Macbeth
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to Macbeth
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
- Related Links
- Macbeth Bibliography
E-Text of Macbeth
Macbeth e-text contains the full text of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
- Persons Represented
- Act I, Scene I
- Act I, Scene II
- Act I, Scene III
- Act I, Scene IV
Wikipedia Entries for Macbeth
- Sources for the play
- Date and text
Everything you need for every book you read..
my S hakespeare
Sign in with:
Or use e-mail:.
my M acbeth
- Using myShakespeare
- Direct Links to Videos
- Shakespeare's Life
- Elizabethan Theater
- Animated Summary
- Scottish History
- Quick Study
- Song Summary
- Scene Summary
A ct 4, S cene 1
First witch, second witch, third witch, first apparition, second apparition, third apparition.
- For Teachers
- Terms of Service
Notes on Prophecies & Apparitions in Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Back to: Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The play Macbeth seriously deals with the idea of fate and whether it is decided by our actions or due to external forces. The three witches are a supernatural force in the play. In their characteristic ambiguity, they utter prophecies in their very first confrontation with Macbeth and Banquo .
Table of Contents
Their first prophecy is for Macbeth when they hail him as the Thane of Glamis, the Thane of Cawdor and the one who shall be king hereafter. As we come to know further in the play, this prophecy is in closest relation to Macbeth’s inner desire for absolute power which is kingship .
This prophecy plays an important role in the progress of the play because it sets the forthcoming actions which are by Macbeth when he tries to earn the power in a shortcut way under the influence of Lady Macbeth.
The moment Duncan awards him with the title of the Thane of Cawdor, he firmly starts believing in the prophecies. The fact that Duncan declares Malcolm as the heir to the throne alarms him and he wants nothing to cloud the prophecy and as an imminent possibility, he observes what Lady Macbeth says and kills Duncan.
The second prophecy of the three witches from the first meeting was for Banquo . Confusing both of them further, they address Banquo as “ lesser than Macbeth, and greater ,” “ not so happy, yet much happier. ” And they predict that Banquo shall have kings in his coming generations but he will never be king by himself.
How Banquo reacts after listening to this tells us of his clear conscience. He disqualifies them as dark evil forces which deceive even in its truth. At the same time, hearing this, Macbeth perceives of Banquo as a threat and the second murder after Duncan is that of Banquo.
This is when we understand how Macbeth is trying to correct whatever sounds dangerous to him in the prophecies which means he is trying to control his own fate.
Once Macbeth has progressed as per the first confrontation with the three witches, they reveal themselves to him again. This time, under the influence of Hecate, they equivocate in a better way. They show him three apparitions.
The first apparition is ahead with a helmet as armour on it. By this time, Macbeth has already doubted Macduff. This apparition warns him of the danger from Macduff and it confirms Macbeth’s next action which is to kill him and before doing so, he kills his family.
The second apparition is a bloody child. Shakespeare has used child imagery in the play several times. Ironically, the child utters to be bloody bold and resolute. It confirms Macbeth’s further rampage as a killing machine.
As a prime equivocator, this apparition lures him into the first false sense of security which is that he won’t die because nobody born from a woman will ever harm him.
The third apparition is a crowned child holding a tree who says that Macbeth is safe until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane hill. It sounds absolutely impossible hence it makes Macbeth sure of his invincibility. These apparitions are equivocations.
We see that Macbeth’s inability to trace the evil in them lures him further into misdeeds. His wrong actions and wrongly created confidence finally put him in a battle where he is defeated.
These apparitions and prophecies can be closely equated to the evil which already lies in Macbeth. The fact that Banquo sees the witches and yet act differently makes us think of Macbeth’s vulnerability to evil and his final tragic disintegration more.
Easy Insightful Literature Notes
Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Summary and Analysis
- “ Macbeth ” is a widely celebrated tragic play written by William Shakespeare .
- While returning from a war victory, Macbeth, a Scottish Army general is met by three witches. They predict Macbeth to be the Thane of Cawdor and “King hereafter”. They also foretell that the successors of Banquo (another general) would be kings.
- Excited by the witches’ prophecies and encouraged by his wife, Macbeth kills Duncan (the King) to become the King himself.
- Now to hide his guilt and to protect his Kingship, Macbeth goes on to kill the King’s guards, Banquo and even Macduff’s (a nobleman) family members in a series of events.
- But finally, Macbeth is defeated by the English Army supporting Malcolm (Duncan’s elder son) and Macduff kills Macbeth in that war to take revenge. Malcolm becomes the new king.
Macbeth – Plot Summary
The play opens in a foul atmosphere upon a desolate place where three witches plan to meet two Scottish Army generals, Macbeth and Banquo who are returning from a battle field after winning a war.
Duncan, the Scottish King, hears the news of his two generals’ heroics. On learning that the “Thane of Cawdor” has betrayed Scotland and fought in favour of the Norwegian army, Duncan orders to kill him. He honours Macbeth with the title the “Thane of Cawdor” for his bravery.
Meanwhile, the three witches greet Macbeth as the “Thane of Glamis” (his present title), “Thane of Cawdor” and “King hereafter”. The news of his new title is still unknown to Macbeth though. The witches also tell Banquo that he will never be the king but his heirs will be kings. Then the witches disappear.
Ross and Angus (two Scottish noblemen) meet Macbeth and Banquo on the way to thank them and inform them the King’s decision to honour Macbeth with the title of “Thane of Cawdor”. Macbeth becomes excited on finding the prophecy of the witches coming true so soon. So, he now wishes kingship. But he is uncertain because the King is still alive.
When Macbeth and Banquo arrive at the royal palace, Duncan declares that he will spend the night at Macbeth’s castle at Inverness and dine with him. Macbeth informs all these incidents to his wife, Lady Macbeth, by a letter in advance. Lady Macbeth also wishes the kingship for her husband. So, she advises Macbeth to murder Duncan on that very night. They plan to make the two guards of the King drunk so that they can be accused of the murder.
In his nervousness, Macbeth gets a hallucination of a bloody dagger and hesitates to kill Duncan, but Lady Macbeth encourages him to proceed with the murder. While Duncan is asleep, Macbeth kills him with a dagger and returns to his wife to give her the news. He is now overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and nervousness. Lady Macbeth rebukes him for this and she herself goes to the crime scene to put the dagger back there.
The next morning, when Macduff and Lenox (two noblemen or lords) come, Macbeth has a conversation with Lenox while Macduff goes to awaken the King, and the murder is discovered. Macbeth kills the King’s guards out of anger and protects himself from suspicion.
Malcom and Donalbain (Duncan’s two sons) escape to England and Ireland out of fear that they may get killed too. Meanwhile, everyone believes that the two guards killed the King on orders of Malcolm and Donalbain who have now run away. Macbeth now becomes the King of Scotland as a kinsman of the dead king.
Macbeth arranges a banquet party at the royal palace at Forres. He invites Banquo to this royal party as he was growing suspicious of his movements. As Banquo leaves for a ride in the middle, Macbeth sends murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance on their way. Banquo is murdered but Fleance escapes from there.
During the party, a murderer brings Macbeth the news of Banquo’s death and Fleance’s escape. Macbeth becomes worried. He thinks that his kingship remains uncertain as Banquo’s successor is still alive.
As Macbeth returns to the feast, he sees Banquo’s ghost sitting on his seat. The ghost is visible only to Macbeth, so he gets terrified and behaves unnaturally. Lady Macbeth tries to pacify him and dismisses the guests quickly to handle the situation. Macbeth now grows suspicious of Macduff as he remained absent from the party.
As Macbeth grows anxious, he goes to meet the witches again to know his future. They produce three apparitions (ghosts) who can answer his queries. The first apparition, an armed head, instructs Macbeth to be careful of Macduff. Secondly, a bloody child, tells him that only a man who is not born of woman can be able to harm Macbeth. The third apparition, a crowned child holding a tree, tells Macbeth that he will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill.
Macbeth feels secure because he knows that there is no man who is not born in a woman’s womb and the wood can not move. When Macbeth wants to know of Banquo’s descendants becoming Kings, the witches present a procession of eight kings. In appearance, all those kings are similar to Banquo. Then Macbeth realizes that Banquo’s successors will be harmful for him.
Lenox (a Scottish noble) informs Macbeth that Macduff has gone to England to get the English King’s support for Malcolm against Macbeth. Macbeth orders to capture Macduff’s castle and to kill Lady Macduff and her children. Lady Macduff and her children are killed cruelly.
In England, Macduff is informed that his family members are killed. He is overwhelmed with grief and oaths that he must take revenge. There he joins Prince Malcom’s army and prepares for an attack on Macbeth.
Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth mourns their crime and unconsciously confesses the crimes committed by them. She is seen walking in her sleep. She behaves madly and washes imaginary blood from her hands. Her doctor fails to give a remedy.
The Scottish nobles who are horrified by Macbeth’s cruel and murderous behavior plan to support the attack of the English army.
The English army encamps in the Birnam wood. The soldiers are instructed to cut the branches of the trees of the Birnam wood and to carry them towards the Dunsinane castle. Macbeth is informed that Lady Macbeth kills herself because of her pessimistic despair.
Macbeth finally feels afraid because he learns that the English army is coming to capture Dunsinane castle with the branches of the trees of the Birnam wood. Macbeth thinks that half of the witches’ prophecy is going to fulfill.
The English army captures Dunsinane castle and overwhelms Macbeth’s army. Besides that, Macduff announces that he is not “born” but “from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d”. Macbeth realizes that he has been deceived. But he still decides to fight. Finally, Macduff kills Macbeth and beheads him.
Prince Malcom becomes the king of Scotland and he announces his generous thoughts for the welfare of his country. He also invites all to see him crowned at Scone.
Macbeth – Into Details
Though precise dates cannot be ascertained, Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” is thought to be written sometime in 1606 -1607 and to be first staged in 1606. However, analyzing available evidences, Shakespearean scholars have agreed that it was composed sometime between 1603 and 1610.
The play was first published in 1623 in the “ First Folio ” (originally known as “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies”).
Shakespeare largely borrowed the story for Macbeth from “ Holinshed’s Chronicles ”. For supernatural aspects he is believed to have consulted texts like King James I’s “ Daemonologie ” (1597) and Reginald Scot’s “ Discoverie of Witchcrafts ” (1548). Moreover, for chronological facts he may have consulted George Buchanan’s “ History of Scotland ”, Andro’s “ Original Chronicle ” and William Stewart’s “ Book of the Chronicles of Scotland ”.
Macbeth – Characters
Duncan – king of Scotland Malcolm – Duncan’s elder son Donalbain – Duncan’s younger son Macbeth – King Duncan’s army general; originally Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor, and later king of Scotland Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s wife, and later queen of Scotland Banquo – Macbeth’s friend and another general in Duncan’s army Fleance – Banquo’s son Macduff – A Scottish nobleman, Thane of Fife Lady Macduff – Macduff’s wife Macduff’s son Ross, Lennox, Angus, Menteith, Caithness – Scottish Thanes Siward – English Army general Young Siward – Siward’s son Seyton – Macbeth’s armourer Captain – in the Scottish army Murderers – employed by Macbeth Porter – gatekeeper at Macbeth’s castle A Scottish Doctor – attending on Lady Macbeth An English Doctor – at the English court Gentlewoman – attending on Lady Macbeth Three Witches Hecate – queen of the witches First Apparition – armed head Second Apparition – bloody child Third Apparition – crowned child Lords, Attendants, Messengers, Servants, Soldiers,
Macbeth – A Brief Commentary
“ Macbeth ” (Full title: “ The Tragedie of Macbeth” ) is a tragedy of Shakespeare in five acts. The play develops the character of Macbeth as a tragic hero . Through Macbeth Shakespeare depicts how high ambition can bring about the downfall of a hero from grace. The main theme can be identified here as ambition versus conscience . Moreover, various other emotional aspects like fear, greed, suspicion etc. worked together to transform Macbeth from an esteemed hero to a cold-blooded murderer.
Another theme in the play “Macbeth” is appearance versus reality . We see Macbeth and his wife behaving so hospitably when King Duncan visited their castle. None could guess the heinous crime they were going to commit that night. Even after that, Macbeth went on with a number of murders to make himself look clean and out of any suspicion.
Moreover, the three apparitions’ prophecies were sheer deception to Macbeth when they told him that no man “born of woman” can harm him and he would remain undefeated until the Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Macbeth misjudged the forecasts which he came to realise later.
The foul and horrific atmosphere created from the very beginning of the play set the right tone for the gruesome actions. The use of supernatural elements like witches and ghosts make the play more intriguing and adds to its dramatic effects.
And finally, the play presents a moral tone where we see the eternal struggle between the evil and the good. While the witches, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth represent the evil, most other characters are good. The author shows the ultimate defeat of evil when finally Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are destroyed.
We serve cookies on this site to offer, protect and improve our services. KNOW MORE OK