Macbeth

  • Created by: sluke
  • Created on: 31-03-18 11:12

Act 1 scenes 1-4

Summary

  • Macbeth is a brave and honourable soldier
  • To reward his efforts in battle, King Duncan names Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor
  • Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches who tell Macbeth he will be King and tell Banquo he will be the father of kings
  • Macbeth begins to think about the possibility of becoming the King

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'If chance will have me King, why, Chance may crown me,' (Iiii)
  • King Duncan (to Macbeth): 'O worthiest cousin!' (Iiv)
  • Macbeth: 'Let not light see my black and deep desires,' (Iiv)
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Act 1 scenes 5-7

Summary

  • Lady Macbeth shares her husband's ambition for the throne
  • She appears crueler than her husband and makes plans for the murder of Duncan
  • The immortality and the possible consequences of the murder cause Macbeth great anxiety
  • He decides not to murder the King but Lady Macbeth bullies him into agreeing to her plan

Key Quotes

  • Lady Macbeth: 'The raven himself is hoarse/ That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/ Under my battlements.' (Iv)
  • Macbeth (on the consequences of killing the King): '... tears shall drown the wind.' (Ivii)
  • Macbeth: 'I am settled, and bend up/ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat' (Ivii)
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Act 2 scenes 1-2

Summary

  • Macbeth is disturbed by the idea of killing the King
  • He is full of fear and panic after he has committed the murder
  • He thinks he will never be able to rest or pray again
  • Lady Macbeth is more controlled and tries to calm him down

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'art thou but/ A dagger of the mind,' (IIi)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'These deeds must not be thought/ After these ways: so, it will make us mad.' (IIii)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'My hands are of your colour; but I shame/ To wear a heart so white.' (IIii)
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Act 2 scenes 3-4

Summary

  • Lennox and Macduff arrive at Macbeth's castle and the murder of King Duncan is discovered
  • Macbeth kills the guards so they cannot be questioned
  • Malcolm and Donaldbain, fearing for their own lives, run away and are then suspected of plotting the murder
  • Macbeth is pronounced King

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'O horror, horror, horror!' (IIiii)
  • Macbeth: '... his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature,' (IIiii)
  • Donaldbain: 'There's daggers in men's smiles...' (IIiii)
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Act 3 scenes 1-3

Summary

  • Macbeth fears Banquo and does not want Banquo's children to succeed him as King
  • He organises the murder of Banquo and Fleance, but Fleance escapes
  • Lady Macbeth is worried about Macbeth's behaviour as he is still troubled by the murder of Duncan
  • She encourages him to act more cheerfully at the celebration feast

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'Our fears in Banquo/ Stick deep,' (IIIi)
  • Macbeth: 'Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown,' (IIIi)
  • Macbeth: 'O, full of scorpions is my mind,' (IIIii)
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Act 3 scenes 4-6

Summary

  • Macbeth and Lady Macbeth hold a banquet as King and Queen
  • The murderer reports Banquo's death but Macbeth is disturbed to hear that Fleance escaped
  • Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost and loses control in front of his guests
  • Lady Macbeth tries but fails to calm him down and keep order
  • Some of the lords are beginning to turn against Macbeth, in particular Macduff, who has gone to England to raise an army

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'Ourself will mingle with society,' (IIIiv)
  • Macbeth: 'But now, I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in/ To saucy doubts and fears,' (IIIiv)
  • Macbeth: 'Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!' (IIIiv)
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Act 4

Summary

  • The witches' visions trick Macbeth into feeling over-confident
  • He gives orders for Macduff's entire family to be murdered
  • Malcolm and Macduff describe Macbeth as a tyrant and discuss what a terrible place Scotland has become under his reign
  • Macduff is brought news of his family's murder and vows to kill Macbeth

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'give to th'edge o'th'sword/ His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls/ That trace him in his line.' (IVi)
  • Malcolm: 'This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,' (IViii)
  • Malcolm (on Scotland): 'It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash/ Is added to her wounds:' (IViii)
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Act 5

Summary

  • Lady Macbeth has been driven mad by guilt
  • Macbeth is initially confident but begins to realise that the witches have tricked him
  • Lady Macbeth dies, presumably by suicide
  • Malcolm's army, using branches from Birnam Wood to hide their numbers, advance on Macbeth's castle
  • Macbeth is killed in battle by Macduff and the throne is restored to the rightful King, Malcolm

Key Quotes

  • Lady Macbeth: 'Out, damned spot!' (Vi)
  • Macbeth (to the Doctor): 'cast/ The water of my land, find her disease,' (Viii)
  • Macbeth: 'I have supped full with horrors:/ Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts...' (Vv)
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Context: Eleventh-century Scotland

Summary

  • Macbeth is set in eleventh-century Scotland. It is based, very loosely, on historical events
  • Scotland had a clear social hierarchy
  • The country's religion was Christianity
  • There were always battles, either against other countries or to gain control of the country
  • Women were seen as being inferior
  • There was a religious belief in the Great Chain of Being, whereby God gives every living thing a place in an ordered hierarchy. To upset this order was a crime against God and nature. Shakespeare explores this in the play by describing nature being in turmoil after the King's murder and having the Macbeths driven mad by their actions 
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Context: James I and Renaissance England

Summary

  • James I was the new King but it was a controversial choice
  • To link to this, the play explores challengers to the throne and the consequences of their actions
  • Shakespeare probably included references to the Divine Right of Kings and the supernatural to please James I
  • Women in Renaissance England were considered inferior to men
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Context: Tragedy

Summary

  • A tragedy is a type of story that usually features tragic events, the downfall of a central figure through a flaw in their character and an unhappy ending
  • At the start of the play, Shakespeare deliberately portrays Macbeth as a good man. He is a dutiful subject of the King, a brave soldier, a loyal friend and a loving husband. As the play progresses, these different qualities vanish and the audience watch his personal, moral downfall
  • Macbeth is referred to as a tragedy and features the key elements of this genre
  • Although the play ends on a positive note, the audience is reminded of all the bad things that have happened
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Characters: Macbeth

Summary

  • Macbeth begins the play as a good, honourable soldier who is respected by all
  • The witches manipulate him by playing on his ambition
  • Macbeth's greatest weakness is his wife. He loves her and is manipulated by her
  • At the start of the play, he battles his conscience, whether it is right or wrong to kill the King

Key Quotes

  • Captain: 'For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name),' (Iii)
  • Macbeth: 'I have brought/ Golden opinions from all sorts of people,/ Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,/ Not cast aside so soon.' (Ivii)
  • Macbeth: 'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand?' (IIii)
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Characters: Macbeth's development

Summary

  • Macbeth becomes corrupted by power and his wish to secure his position
  • He sees no end to his murderous ways and Scotland becomes a land of terror
  • He is hated and feared by others
  • The witches' visions make him over-confident

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth (hearing that Fleance has escaped): 'Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect;/ Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,' (IIIiv)
  • Malcolm: 'I grant him bloody,/ Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,/ Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin...' (IViii)
  • Macbeth: 'I have almost forgot the taste of fears,' (Vv)
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Characters: Lady Macbeth

Summary

  • Lady Macbeth is very ambitious and seems willing to do whatever it takes to gain power
  • She plans King Duncan's murder
  • She calls on evil spirits to aid her in achieving her ambitions
  • She uses a range of techniques to manipulate Macbeth
  • Shakespeare often shows her dominance by giving her more lines than Macbeth and her interrupt him

Key Quotes

  • Lady Macbeth: '... unsex me here ...' (Iv)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'When you durst do it, then you were a man.' (Ivii)
  • Macbeth: 'Bring forth men children only!/ For thy undaunted mettle should compose/ Nothing but males.' (Ivii)
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Characters: Lady Macbeth's development

Summary

  • She is initially much less concerned than Macbeth is by the murder of the King
  • She worries about Macbeth's state of mind
  • She tries to control the situation, when Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost, but fails
  • By the end of the play, her actions have affected her mind and she has gone mad
  • She dies off-stage, presumably of suicide

Key Quotes

  • Lady Macbeth: 'Things without all remedy/ Should be without regard;' (IIIii)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'Why do you make such faces? When all's done,/ You look but on a stool.' (IIIiv)
  • Lady Macbeth: '... all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.' (Vi)
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Characters: Banquo

Summary

  • Banquo is Macbeth's friend and they fight bravely together
  • The witches tell Banquo that he will be the father of kings
  • Shakespeare develops differences between Banquo and Macbeth, showing Banquo as more virtuous
  • Banquo suspects that Macbeth killed Duncan
  • Macbeth has Banquo murdered but his son, Fleance, escapes

Key Quotes

  • Captain: ' ... they were/ As cannons overcharg'd with double cracks,' (Iii)
  • Banquo: '... to win us to our harm,/ The instruments of Darkness tell us truths;' (Iiii)
  • Banquo: '... I fear/ Thou play'dst most foully for't;' (IIIi)
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Characters: Macduff

Summary

  • Macduff is presented as a typical, honourable thane
  • Shakespeare uses him to voice Scotland's grief at the loss of their King and the tyranny of Macbeth
  • He is a victim of Macbeth's paranoia and his entire family is murdered
  • He kills Macbeth in the name of the rightful King, Malcolm

Key Quotes

  • Macduff (to Malcolm): 'Let us rather/ Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men/ Bestride our downfall birthdom.' (Vviii)
  • Macduff (about the death of his family): 'All my pretty ones?/ Did you say all?- O Hell - kite! - All?' (IViii)
  • Macduff (to Macbeth): 'Turn, Hell-bound, turn!' (Vviii)
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Characters: King Duncan and Malcolm

Summary

  • King Duncan is an honourable, virtuous, well-respected King
  • However, he is too trusting
  • Malcolm is equally honourable and virtuous but more suspicious of others
  • Duncan's 'divine right' to the throne is symbolised by the terrible weather on the night of his murder

Key Quotes

  • Malcolm (to Donaldbain): 'This murtherous shaft that's shot/ Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way/ Is to avoid the aim.' (IIiii)
  • Macduff (to Malcolm, about Duncan): 'Thy royal father/ Was a most sainted King;' (IViii)
  • Malcolm: 'Macbeth/ Is ripe for shaking, and the Powers above/ Put on their instruments;' (IViii)
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Characters: The Witches

Summary

  • The witches are evil, powerful and manipulative
  • Stagecraft is an important factor in presenting how unnatural they are
  • The witches speak in an ambiguous way to trick Macbeth

Key Quotes

  • 1st Witch: 'When shall we three meet again?/ In thunder, lightning, or in rain?' (Ii)
  • 2nd Witch: 'Cool it with a baboon's blood:/ Then the charm is firm and good.' (IVi)
  • Macbeth (realising that the witches have tricked him): 'To doubt th'equivocation of the fiend,/ That lies like truth.' (Vv)
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Themes: Power and Corruption

Summary

  • Power is represented by King Duncan and Macbeth
  • Macbeth and Lady Macbeth desire greater power
  • Power is shown to corrupt Macbeth

Key Quotes

  • Lady Macbeth (to King Duncan): 'those honours deep and broad, wherewith/ Your Majesty loads our house.' (Ivi)
  • Macbeth: 'You know your degrees, sit down [...] Ourself will mingle with society,' (IIIiv)
  • Macbeth: 'Send out more horses, skirr the country round;/ Hang those that talk of fear.' (Viii)
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Themes: Religion and the Supernatural

Summary

  • Religion and the supernatural are presented as opposing forces of good and evil
  • The play's good characters live a Christian life and respect the Great Chain of Being
  • The bad characters in the play are either supernatural or are influenced by the supernatural

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: '[Aside] This supernatural soliciting/ Cannot be ill; cannot be good.' (Iiii)
  • Macbeth: 'I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen'/ Stuck in my throat.' (IIii)
  • Doctor (about Lady Macbeth): 'More needs she the divine than the physician. -/ God, God, forgive us all!' (Vi)
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Themes: Temptation and Manipulation

Summary

  • Macbeth is easily manipulated by the witches and Lady Macbeth
  • He is tempted by power and greatness
  • Lady Macbeth manipulates his insecurities about his manliness, while the witches manipulate his paranoia and make him over-confident

Key Quotes

  • The Witches: 'All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!/ All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!/ All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter!' (Iiii)
  • Lady Macbeth (to Macbeth): 'Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!/ Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!' (Iv)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'Art thou afeard/ To be the same in thine own act and valour,/ As thou art in desire?' (Ivii)
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Themes: Duty and Betrayal

Summary

  • Characters show a moral and religious obligation towards the King
  • In the play, characters are rewarded for their duty and punished for betrayal
  • Macbeth's betrayal of Duncan also brings a spiritual punishment
  • Shakespeare's presentation of duty and betrayal is also a show of support for James I

Key Quotes

  • Duncan: 'What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.' (Iii)
  • Duncan (about Macbeth): 'he is full so valiant,/ And in his commendations I am fed;/ It is a banquet to me.' (Iiv)
  • Malcolm: 'This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,/ Was once thought honest;' (IViii)
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Themes: Guilt and Madness

Summary

  • Shakespeare uses blood as a recurring symbol of guilt for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
  • They both feel guilty about the killing of the King, although Lady Macbeth's guilt isn't apparent until later in the play
  • Macbeth's guilt and paranoia affect his sanity
  • Lady Macbeth's madness is more extreme and she eventually kills herself

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: 'How is't with me, when every noise appals me?/ What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.' (IIii)
  • Lady Macbeth: 'Here's the smell of the blood still;' (Vi)
  • Macbeth: 'Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff/ Which ways upon the heart?' (Viii)
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Themes: Secrets and Lies

Summary

  • Macbeth becomes secretive once the witches' prophecies start to come true
  • Lady Macbeth instructs her husband how to lie and hide the truth
  • Secrets and lies are also presented as having some honourable motivation, such as Ross wanting to spare Macduff the truth about his family being murdered

Key Quotes

  • Macbeth: '[Aside] Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!/ The greatest is behind.' (Iiii)
  • Lady Macbeth: '... look like th'innocent flower/ But be the serpent under't.' (Iv)
  • Macbeth: 'False face must hide what the false heart doth know.' (Ivii)
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