6th March 2018

Summary – Act 1

William Shakespeare`s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

Characters: Three witches.

Location: A desert place.

Time: Unkown (before the end of the battle mentioned)

Events: The witches plan to meet again after the battle is done and meet Macbeth upon the heath.

Quote: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” (Paradox) – All Witches

William Shakespeare`s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 2 Summary

Characters: Duncan, Malcolm, Captain, Lenox, Rosse.

Location: Camp near Forres.

Time: Just after Macbeth slain Macdonwald.

Events: Battle just fought, King Duncan is being told by the wounded Captain about how Macbeth slew Macdonwald. Their enemy. And how brave and valiant Macbeth fought. Rosse tells the King that they won the battle.

Quote: “As two swimmers, that do cling together and choke their art.” (That the outcome of the battle was still unclear and both sides were just holding off each other.) – Captain

Quote: “Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution.” (The blood of his sword looked like vapour flying off)                – Captain

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 3 Summary

Character: Three witches, Macbeth, Banquo, Rosse, Angus.

Location: Upon the heath.

Time: After the battle was won by them.

Events: Three witches tell Macbeth and Banquo that Macbeth is Thane of Cawdor and will be king and Banquo’s children will be king. Then Rosse and Angus come and tell Macbeth about how the king made him Thane of Cawdor. They start to take the witches prediction seriously. Banquo is aware of a possible mistruth by the witches. Macbeth believes them. He starts thinking about a murderous fantasy he is scared to consider.

Quote: “The Thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me in borrowed clothes?” (The Thane of Cawdor lives: why do you give me the title of someone else.) – Macbeth

Quote: “New honours come upon him like our strange new garments, cleave not to their mould. But with aid of use.” (New honours have been given to him like clothes that do not fit properly but will with the “aid of use”.

Throughout the scenes, we have read so far, there have been a few metaphors about clothing to describe the situation someone is in. (Motif / Symbolic) 

Quote: “If Chance will have me king, why, Chance may crown, without my stir” (If fate has planned to have him king would he be crowned without him needing to take action” – Macbeth

This can be referenced back to Romeo and Juliet in the same way that Romeo allows ‘Fate’ to “direct his sail” and “steer my course”, as Macbeth will let ‘Chance’ “have him king” and “may crown”.

Quote: “That, trusted home, might yet enkindle you unto the crown besides the Thane of Cawdor. But ‘t is strange: and oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence-” (Just because they tell us one truth does not mean everything else they said will come true too. )- Banquo

Banquo doesn’t believe or doesn’t want to believe that Macbeth will become king, he doesn’t believe the witches and refers to them as “instruments of darkness”.

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

Characters: Duncan, Malcolm, Macbeth,

Location: Forres. A room in the King’s Palace.

Time: After the witches told Macbeth and Banquo about their prediction.

Events: Duncan personally thanks Macbeth for his great deed in battle and we now know of the execution of the old Thane of Cawdor who betrayed them. Macbeth thinks Duncan will pronounce him as the next King and is disappointed that Duncan names Malcolm his heir.

Quote:” The Prince of Cumberland! – That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires; the eye wink at hand, yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”(He will be my downfall or I will overcome him since he stands in my way of becoming king. Nobody shall see my evil thoughts, and I shall close my eyes as to not see my hand. When it is done the eye will fear to look at what he did.) – Macbeth

As Macbeth learns of Malcolm’s new position, he recognises him as an obstacle to his becoming King and he will either be Macbeth’s downfall or Macbeth will get rid of him; “That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies”. He will pretend to congratulate Malcolm while planning to plot behind his back with his dark thoughts and ideas. “Let not light see my black and deep desires.”. 

Macbeth is also afraid of these thoughts and what he might do, the imagery used of the eyes has been used a few times throughout the play already. “the eye wink at hand” and “which the eye fears”. 

Also, Shakespeare also uses the stars which played a big part in fate in Romeo and Juliet. In this play, the stars could also represent God and Macbeth does not want him to see his evil thoughts and plans. 

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 Summary

Characters: Lady Macbeth, Messanger, Macbeth.

Location: A room in Macbeth’s castle.

Time: After Malcolm was crowned heir to the throne.

Events: Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth that tells her all that has happened to him. She reflects that Macbeth is too kind to perform such a deed. A messenger comes to tell her about the King’s arrival and she plans to take control of the situation to kill the king for Macbeth she says she wants to be “unsexed” because women in that time were thought incapable. She says that she has no compunctious so her conscience wouldn’t get in her way. Macbeth comes and tells her of the kings stay, she says to him to leave the deed to her.

Quote: “That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty!” (Take away my femininity to do the deed.) – Lady Macbeth

Women at that time were thought as weak and incapable so she wants her femininity to be taken away “unsex me here”.

Quote: “-Yet I do fear thy nature: it is too full o’ the milk of humans kindness to catch the nearest way.” (She fears her husband’s nature is too kind.) – Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth does not think her husband has it in him so she plans to do the evil deed for him so he can rise to power and pull her up with him.

Quote: “Come, you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood; stop up the access and the passage to remorse that no compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between the effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murdering minister, wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark to cry “Hold, hold”.” (Come dark night, and shroud yourself in the darkest smoke from hell so my knife cannot see what it has done and so heaven/goodness cannot see through the darkness and yell at me to stop.) – Lady Macbeth

This is the first insight into the plans to kill the king, Lady Macbeth has started to show her darker self. She uses similar wording to her husband when she says “Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes” and Macbeth says “Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires. The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be, which the eyes fears, when it is done, to see.” These two quotes both use the dark to hide thoughts or/and the actions the two characters a thinking of. In this quote, the darkness is also referred to the evil spirits like those of the witches. They do not want heaven to see what they are up to.

Quote: “Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal.” (Fate and metaphysical (evil spirits, witches, supernatural) help which seem to have crowned you already) – Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth recognises the otherworldly help her husband will have and that they have already predicted him as king.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 6 Summary

Characters: Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macbeth (Malcolm, Donalbain, Lenox Macduff, Rosse, Angus and attendants)

Location: In front of Macbeth’s castle.

Time: After Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk.

Events: The king and those who accompanied him arrive at Macbeth’s castle and are greeted by Lady Macbeth, they discuss Macbeth then proceed inside. Duncan expresses his love for Macbeth and the pleasantness of the castle.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7 Summary

Characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth.

Location: Room in Macbeth’s castle.

Time: As Duncan has dinner.

Events: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth discuss how they are going to kill Duncan. Macbeth changes his mind at the beginning and Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and changes his mind back to her plan to frame the king’s guards.

Quote:”He’s here in double trust: first, as I am his kinsmen and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself.”(The King has two reasons to trust me, I am his subject and his family and also his host who should not allow his murderers into his home and not hold the knife to kill Duncan himself.) – Macbeth.

Macbeth is now thinking of why he shouldn’t be the one kill Duncan as he is part of his family, his king, and his guest. Because of these, he should be the one to turn away potential murderers and not murder him himself.

Quote:” He hath honoured me of late; and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon.” (He is an honorable man and many people think highly of him, their opinions should be worn as medals and not cast aside.) – Macbeth

Macbeth has now changed his mind towards killing Duncan, but Lady Macbeth tries to talk him out of it. Macbeth says that his cousin is too good of a person and is loved too much by many people.

Quote: “Was the hope drunk, wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since, and wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? From this time such I account thy love.” (Were you so for it all before because you were drunk? Have you now woken and feel sick about it. I will now think of your love as a drunk lust.) – Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is outraged that Macbeth is going back on what he was planning earlier, she accuses him of loving her in the same drunken, untrue way.

Quote: “Bring forth men-children only! For thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males.” (Have only male offspring for your unafraid fearlessness should only make males.) – Macbeth

Macbeth has now had his mind changed back by his wifes clever plan to kill Duncan and admres her courage and says he hopes they have son to inherit her fearlessness.

State of Mind = Are the witches real or is Macbeth seeing things

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