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Macbeth Scene-by-Scene Overview

Act One, Scene 1

As a battle rages, three witches (The Weird Sisters) appear and agree that they will meet with Macbeth
once the battle is over.

Act One, Scene 2

The valiant and worthy character of Macbeth is established in two reports of different battles delivered to King
The Thane of Cawdor, a traitor, has been captured.
Duncan orders that the traitor be executed and that his title be given to Macbeth in recognition of his heroic efforts.

Act One, Scene 3

The battle is done and the Weird Sisters meet again.

They greet Macbeth and Banquo with a series of prophecies.
They predict that Macbeth will not only be Thane of Cawdor but will also be King.
They predict that Banquo will be father to a line of kings.
Ross and Angus arrive with news that Macbeth is the new Thane of Cawdor, thus fulfilling the first of the

Act One, Scene 4

Duncan hears how nobly the traitor Cawdor died.
Macbeth and Banquo arrive and are warmly greeted by the gracious king.
Duncan proclaims his son Malcolm heir to the throne and announces his intention to visit Macbeths
Macbeth leaves to prepare for the kings arrival.
Macbeth now appears resolved to act to hasten the fulfillment of the Weird Sisters prophecies.
Act One, Scene 5

Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband detailing the encounter with the witches.
She immediately resolves to have Duncan killed to fulfill the prophecy.
A messenger brings news of the Kings imminent arrival.
Macbeth appears and he and Lady Macbeth begin to plot the assassination of the King.

Act One, Scene 6

Duncan and his entourage approach Macbeths castle.

They stop to admire the serene surroundings.
Lady Macbeth greets them graciously and escorts them into the castle.

Act One, Scene 7

Macbeth debates whether or not he should kill the king, and decides to proceed no further with the plot.
Lady Macbeth reproaches Macbeth for his lack of courage.
She convinces him to go through with the plan and assures him that it will appear that Duncans guards
are guilty of the deed.

Act Two, Scene 1
Banquo is tired but cannot sleep. His thoughts revolve around the Weird Sisters prophecies. He mentions
dreaming about the Sisters to Macbeth, but Macbeth denies thinking of them at all. Banquo agrees to
discuss the matter further.
Macbeth bids Banquo goodnight and proceeds about his bloody business.
He imagines a dagger leading him to the place where he is to kill Duncan. The bell signals that all is clear
for him to enter Duncans chamber.
Act Two, Scene 2

Lady Macbeth waits in the courtyard for her husband. A shaken Macbeth appears and informs her that he
has done the deed.
She is horrified to discover that her husband did not leave the bloody daggers at the murder scene, and
Macbeth refuses to go back to Duncans chamber.
As Lady Macbeth leaves to return the daggers, a loud knocking is heard.
When she rejoins Macbeth, they retire to their bedchamber to make it appear that they had been

Act Two, Scene 3

The porters drunken sleep is cut short by the loud knocking of Macduff and Lennox. Macbeth greets the
two at the gate.
Macduff leaves to rouse the king.
A horrified Macduff reports that the king has been murdered.
The crime is blamed on the guards, and Macbeth kills the guards out of supposed rage and loyalty for the
Malcolm and Donalbain decide to flee the country for their own safety.

Act Two, Scene 4

An old man and Ross, recounting the unnatural events that transpired during the night of Duncans
murder, are joined by Macduff who informs them that suspicion of the murder has fallen on the kings
It is believe that Malcolm and Donalbain hired two guards to do the deed.
Macbeth has been chosen as the new king.
Ross leaves to attend the coronation but Macduff chooses to return home to Fife instead.

Act Three, Scene 1

Banquo, although he suspects that Macbeth has attained the crown through foul play, is heartened by the
Weird Sisters prophecy that he will father a line of kings.
Macbeth appears and learns of Banquos plans for that day.
Macbeth orders Banquo not to miss the banquet that evening.
Alone, Macbeth is reminded of the prophecy concerning Banquos line.
Two murderers join Macbeth, who proceeds to persuade them to kill Banquo and Fleance.

Act Three, Scene 2

Lady Macbeth learns from a servant that Banquo is gone from the court.
Alone, she admits that attaining the throne has not resulted in happiness or peace of mind.
Macbeth enters and he too reveals that his mind has been tortured with fears of Banquo.
They resolve to put on happy faces for the banquet that evening.
Macbeth hints of some dreadful deed that he has undertaken, but does not share with his wife the details
of the plan.

Act Three, Scene 3

Macbeth sends a third murderer to help kill Banquo and Fleance.

The three murderers ambush their prey and manage to kill Banquo.
In the confusion, however, Fleance escapes.

Act Three, Scene 4

The banquet is well underway when one of the murderers appears and reports to Macbeth.
Macbeth is delighted with the news that Banquo is dead, but is dismayed to learn that Fleance has
When Macbeth rejoins the party, he loses all composure in front of his guests when he sees Banquos
Lady Macbeth asks the guests to leave.
Macbeth announces his intention to visit the Weird Sisters to get more information.

Act Three, Scene 5

Hecate, queen of the witches, chastises the Weird Sisters for reproaching Macbeth without her.
She instructs them on how to deal with Macbeth when he next visits them.
It is her plan to destroy Macbeth by filling him with over-confidence.

Act Three, Scene 6

With unrestrained sarcasm, Lennox and another Lord discuss recent events in Scotland.
They are convinced that Macbeth is responsible for the murders of Duncan and Banquo, and they are glad
that Malcolm and Donalbain are beyond Macbeths reach.
Macduff has fled to England to join up with Malcolm, who is mustering a military force to rid Scotland of
Macbeths bloody tyranny.

Act Four, Scene 1

The Weird Sisters, huddled around a boiling cauldron, prepare a spell.

Macbeth appears and demands information.
A series of apparitions appear and Macbeth is heartened by their encouraging prophecies.
The apparitions and the Weird Sisters disappear.
Lennox arrives and reports that Macduff has fled to England.
Macbeth resolves to attack Macduffs castle and have everyone within it killed.

Act Four, Scene 2

Ross and Lady Macbeth discuss Macduffs abandonment of his family and his departure for England.
Ross leaves and the murderers appear at the door.
Macduffs son is killed, and Lady Macduff is pursued offstage by the murderers.

Act Four, Scene 3

Macduff has arrived in England and attempts to convince Malcolm to lead a military force to overthrow
Malcolm suspects that Macduff has been sent by Macbeth, but once Malcolm is convinced that Macduff is
indeed loyal, he pledges to do all he can to restore peace and legitimate rule to Scotland.
Ross arrives and reports that slaughter of Macduffs family and household. Malcolm encourages Macduff
to convert his grief to anger and to seek revenge.

Act Five, Scene 1

Lady Macbeth has been observed sleep-walking and talking for several nights. A doctor has been
summoned by her attendant to observe her nightly ritual.
Lady Macbeth appears, and in her sleep-walking state relives details of the murders for which she and
Macbeth are responsible.
Both the doctor and the gentlewoman are shocked by what they witness.
The doctor realizes there is nothing he can do to help and advises that a careful watch be placed on Lady

Act Five, Scene 2

A Scottish army is on its way towards Birnam Wood to join up with the English forces led by Malcolm and
Angus expresses the view that those few who continue to serve Macbeth do so not out of loyalty or love
but only out of fear.

Act Five, Scene 3

Reports that the nobles are deserting him do not bother Macbeth. Because of the prophecies, Macbeth
remains confident that he cannot be defeated.
He receives a report that ten thousand English soldiers are approaching his castle.
As he puts on his battle garb, Macbeth discusses the Queens condition with the doctor.

Act Five, Scene 4

On their way to Macbeths castle, Malcolm and the English forces stop at Birnam Wood.
Malcolm orders the soldiers to cut branches from the trees to use as camouflage during their march
towards Macbeths castle.

Act Five, Scene 5

Macbeth feels secure behind the mighty battlements of his castle.

He hears the cry of women and is informed that his wife is dead. This sparks in him thoughts about the
meaninglessness of his life.
New reports claim that Birnam Wood is marching towards Dunsinane.

Act Five, Scene 6

Malcolm and his forces have arrived at Macbeths castle

Malcolm orders the soldiers to drop their branches and for Siward to lead the attack.
Macduff and Malcolm will follow behind.

Act Five, Scene 7

A confident Macbeth abandons the security of the castle and challenges all comers on the battlefield.
He finds himself cornered with no means of escape.
However, Macbeth is still confident that the second prediction (no one born of a woman shall harm
Macbeth) will protect him.
Young Siward is killed by Macbeth.
Macduff appears seeking out Macbeth.
Siward announces that the castle has surrendered and that the battle will soon be over.

Act Five, Scene 8

Macduff and Macbeth fight.

At first, Macduff does poorly against Macbeth, who brags about his charmed life.
Macduff reveals that he was untimely ripped from his mothers womb.
Macbeth is so shocked that at first he refuses to fight with Macduff.
Macduff kills Macbeth and drags him off.
Malcolm and Siward arrive and they learn that Siwards son has been killed.
Macduff reappears carrying Macbeths head.
Malcolm is hailed king, and he promises to restore order and peace to Scotland.