Act 4 Summary

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary

Characters: The witches, Hecate, Macbeth, Apparitions, Lennox

Location: A dark cave

Time: Not Sure

Events: Witches and Hecate meet with Macbeth and give him some more information using three apparitions. One tells him to beware of Macduff, the other tells him that no man can harm him and the third tells him that he will never be vanquished until the forest moves up the hill. Macbeth tries to ask them what about Banquo’s children becoming kings. They confirm it again. Then Lennox comes just as the witches disappear and tells him Macduff has fled to England.

Quote: “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; beware the Thane of Fife. – Dismiss me. -Enough.” – Apparition One.

Quote: “Be bloody, bold and resolute: laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” (Be bloody, bold and resolute: laugh at the power of men for no man to whom a woman has given birth shall harm Macbeth.) – Apparition Two.

Quote: “Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are: Macbeth shall never vanquish be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him.” (Be as courageous as a lion, proud and don’t worry about who is angry, or complains or plots against you: Macbeth will never be defeated until the Great Birnam wood moves up Dunsinane hill.) – Apparition Three.

Shakespeare has used animals (birds especially) to be symbols and/or metaphors to emphasise a quality (Be lion-mettled, proud), a state of time (when the owl is used to symbolize darkness for an approaching dark time) and also to explain the importance of an event (quote in summary below).

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 2 Summary

Characters: Lady Macduff, Son, Rosse, Messanger, Murderers.

Location: A room in Macduff’s castle.

Time: After Macduff fled to England.

Events: Lady Macduff is talking to Rose about Macduff fleeing to England, Lady Macduff says that Macduff is dead to her and has left their son fatherless. The son does not believe what his mother is saying that his father is not a traitor as his mother says he is. The murderers come in and ask for Macduff, Lady Macduff says he is in an unholy place and the son called them villains. They stab and kill him and Lady Macduff runs out of the room.

Quotes: “He loves us not; he wants the natural touch; for the poor wren, the most diminutive of birds, will fight, her young ones in her nest, against the owl. All is fear, and nothing is the love; as little is the wisdom, where the flight so runs against all reason.” (He does not love us, he lacks the normal feelings of a father and a husband. Even the fragile wren will fight against the owl when it threatens her young ones in the nest. His running away has everything to do with fear and nothing to do with love. There is no wisdom in his running away and goes against all reason.) – Lady Macduff

Again, Shakespeare uses birds to describe what is going on in the play and what Lady Macduff of her husband now that he has left them.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 3 Summary

Characters: Malcolm, Macduff, Doctor, Rosse.

Location: England, a room in the King’s Castle.

Time: After the murder of Lady Macduff and her son.

Events: Malcolm is suspicious, fearing that Macduff might betray him to Macbeth for a personal reward. Macduff is dismayed to be suspected in this way.  To test Macduff’s loyalty, Malcolm pretends to be even more sinful than Macbeth. Malcolm pretends to be lustful and greedy and lacking in all the virtues that a king should possess. Finally believing that Malcolm is as full of vices as he claims, Macduff angrily rejects him as fit to rule Scotland. This is the reassurance that Malcolm needs and he explains that he had lied about his vices to test Macduff’s loyalty. Malcolm explains about King Edward’s powers to cure people. Rosse arrives to report the latest news from Scotland. He reports that Macduff’s family are well and that good men are preparing to rebel against Macbeth. Malcolm confirms his plans to invade Scotland with the support of an English army. Then Rosse breaks the news about the murder of Macduff’s family. Malcolm tries to comfort Macduff and they then leave for the invasion of Scotland.

Quotes: “It is myself, I mean; in whom I know all the particulars of vice so grafted, that, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow; and the poor state esteem him as a lamb, being compared with my confineless harms.” ( I am talking about myself. I have many bad qualities that when the people see them all, Macbeth will look as pure as snow and poor Scotland will see him as a sweet lamb compared to my infinite evils.) – Malcolm

Quotes: “Macbeth is ripe for shaking, and the powers above put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may; the night is long that never finds the day.” (Macbeth is ready to be taken off the throne and the heavenly powers are arming themselves. The night was long but a new day will come.) – Malcolm.

They talk about Macbeth’s reign as a long night and that their plan to take him off the throne and invade Scotland will start a new day. This adds on to the night metaphor that has been seen throughout the play. It is also a nice quote that can also mean that bad times will always come to an end.

 

 

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