Macbeth
William Shakespeare
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter Summaries
Timeline
Act 1
Characters and conflict are introduced, and Macbeth's ambition for power is kindled. After Macbeth decides that he would not kill the king, Lady Macbeth calls him a coward.
Act 2
Macbeth kills King Duncan, and kills King Duncan's servants in grief-stricken rage. Malcolm and Donalbain flee.
Act 3
Banquo suspects that Macbeth has killed Duncan, and Macbeth hires assassins to kill Banquo. Banquo is murdered, but Fleance escapes. Macbeth hallucinates as a result of his guilt.
Act 4
Lady Macduff and her son are murdered, Malcolm tests Macduff and prepare for battle.
Act 5
Battle ensues, and both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth die.
Chapter Summaries Table
Chapter Summary
Act 1 Scene 1

Amid a violent thunderstorm, three witches meet in a desolate Scottish heath. They make plans to meet Macbeth in the moor after his battle, so they...

Act 1 Scene 2

Scotland is in chaos, plagued by both civil and international war. Both rebels and Norwegians, led by King Sweno, attack the country. King Duncan f...

Act 1 Scene 3

The three witches appear amid a clap of thunder. They have just cursed a woman whose sailor husband offended them. As Macbeth and Banquo exit the b...

Act 1 Scene 4

At the court of King Duncan, a message arrives at the throne regarding the execution of the Thane of Cawdor. The king formally delivers appreciatio...

Act 1 Scene 5

Lady Macbeth reads a letter in which Macbeth describes the witches’ prophecies. Then she receives word that King Duncan will visit soon. Upon rec...

Act 1 Scene 6

King Duncan and his entourage arrive at Macbeth’s castle, where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth receive him. Despite her malicious intentions and murder...

Act 2 Scene 1

Macbeth moves toward the King's chamber. On the way, he meets Banquo alongside his son, Fleance. Banquo has not been sleeping and discloses to Macb...

Act 2 Scene 2

After murdering King Duncan, Macbeth leaves the chamber, and he descends into the courtyard. There, he meets Lady Macbeth. She has just killed the ...

Act 2 Scene 3

Despite the urgency and persistence of the knock on the door, the porter hesitates to open it. Instead, he occupies himself with a game wherein he ...

Act 2 Scene 4

On his way home from the castle, the Thane of Ross meets an elderly man who confirms rumors of disruption of the natural world. Then Macduff appear...

Act 3 Scene 1

Although Banquo suspects that Macbeth could be responsible for King Duncan’s murder, he is, however, comforted by the witches’ third prophecy o...

Act 3 Scene 2

This intimate scene shows the Macbeths’ private life, their thoughts and perceptions of current events. Although it pauses the play’s action, i...

Act 3 Scene 3

Macbeth’s hired assassins wait for an opportune moment to pounce on Banquo and Fleance. Upon hearing approaching horses, they prepare to attack. ...

Act 3 Scene 4

Back at his palace, Macbeth entertains the Scottish thanes. Just before their feast begins, one of the assassins appears at a side door. He informs...

Act 3 Scene 5

The goddess of the underworld, Hecate, is unimpressed with the events leading to Macbeth’s ruin. She believes that the witches have overlooked he...

Act 3 Scene 6

When Lennox meets with the rebel leader, he expresses doubt in Macbeth’s story. He indicates that by hurriedly killing the King Duncan’s guard,...

Act 4 Scene 1

Macbeth returns to the three witches, and he demands they present him with prophecies about his future. The first apparition is a warrior’s head,...

Act 4 Scene 2

In the Macduff’s castle, his family learns he has become a traitor and fled the country. Lady Macduff’s eldest son comforts her with courage be...

Act 4 Scene 3

In England, Macduff has joined Malcolm’s army, and Malcolm tests his loyalty. Malcolm boasts of his ability to be a worse tyrant than Macbeth, tr...

Act 5 Scene 1

Lady Macbeth is suffering, and her problems are psychological. She sleepwalks. She cannot stop thinking about the multiple murders she and Macbeth ...

Act 5 Scene 2

Macbeth’s support is dwindling. He loses four officials to Malcolm, including Lennox, Menteth, Angus, and Caithness. By this time, the English fo...

Act 5 Scene 3

Macbeth receives reports of an impending attack. However, Macbeth remembers the prophecy that he will be invincible on the battlefield. When a serv...

Act 5 Scene 4

Under Malcolm’s leadership, the English and Scottish rebel troops meet at Birnam Wood. Malcolm orders each military officer to cut a branch of th...

Act 5 Scene 5

Macbeth begins the scene with a bold speech about war. In an apparent morale-boosting exercise for his soldiers, Macbeth commands them to “hang o...

Act 5 Scene 6

Summary

At Dunsinane, the Birnam wood arrives. Malcolm and his military troops come covered in leaves. Their movement into Macbeth'...

Act 5 Scene 7

Scene VII paves the way for Macbeth’s destruction. Flurries of activity happens, and it is evident that Macbeth’s fall is closer than ever befo...

Act 5 Scene 8

Macbeth and Macduff come face to face on the battlefield, where they exchange words before clashing swords. Macbeth, the bloody usurper of the thro...

Act 5 Scene 9

The castle of Dunsinane has been taken, and peace falls upon the land. The war ends with Macbeth’s death. Besides, the honors of the war have bee...

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