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William Shakespear's Macbeth

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William Shakespeare's Macbeth

In what you are about to read is a detailed description of every scene and every act of Macbeth.

Act I:

The play begins upon a heath. Thunder and lighting rake the air. Three Witches ask themselves when they shall next meet, deciding that it will be "When the hurlyburly's done, / When the battle's lost and won". This will be later in the day at "the set of sun" upon a heath again where they will meet Macbeth. Together the Three Witches cry, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: / Hover through the fog and filthy air" Macbeth is introduced to us as the brave man who led King Duncan's forces to victory against the traitorous Thane of Cawdor, Macdonwald and The King of Norway, in a battle that could have gone either way were it not for Macbeth's leadership. We learn that Macbeth killed Macdonwald himself in battle. King Duncan, overjoyed, decides to make Macbeth his new Thane of Cawdor. The previous Thane of Cawdor will be executed.

King Duncan, his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, and noblemen Lennox enter, meeting with a bleeding Sergeant. He speaks to the King of a battle between the King's forces and those of the traitorous Macdonwald.

Victory was not assured, but then Macbeth entered the fray, "For brave Macbeth,-well he deserves that name,- / Disdaining fortune [ignoring the dangers], with his brandish'd steel [with his sword]... carv'd out his passage [carved his way through the battle / entered the fight]" (Lines 16-20).

Later we learn that Macbeth killed Macdonwald himself, securing his head to the King's battlements: "he unseam'd [cut him open] him from nave to the chaps, / And fix'd his head upon our battlements" (Line 22).

The Norwegian Lord however began a fresh assault, the bleeding Sergeant explains, but Macbeth and Banquo met them: "they / Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe: [they redoubled their efforts against the enemy]" (Line 39).

The Sergeant finishes his report with praise: "They [Macbeth and Banquo] smack of honour both" (Line 45).

Nobleman Ross enters, announcing to the King and company that the King of Norway himself "With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor, / The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;" (the King of Norway with huge numbers of men, helped by that traitorous Thane of Cawdor started a terrible battle), (Lines 52-54).

Only when Macbeth, described as the bridegroom of the goddess of war arrived, did the King's men emerge triumphant with the Norwegians now pleading for peace: "Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof, / Confronted him with self-comparisons," (Lines 55-56).

We learn of King Duncan's great pleasure. "Great happiness!" (Line 59), King Duncan says on hearing that his forces have defeated the King of Norway's and that the King of Norway's dead are to buried but not before the payment of ten thousand dollars for the King's general use or rather as part of the terms of peace the defeated Norwegians have made with King Duncan.

Duncan is no longer fooled by the Thane of Cawdor's treachery and instructs Ross to "pronounce his present death, / And with his former title greet Macbeth" (Line 66).

King Duncan explains that "What he [the last Thane of Cawdor's title] hath [has] lost noble Macbeth hath won" (the title that the Thane of Cawdor has lost, Macbeth has now won], (Lines 66-67). The Thane of Cawdor will be executed and Macbeth will now have the previous traitor's title. The Three Witches' establish their malicious nature before meeting Macbeth and Banquo. The Three Witches tell Macbeth that he will be "Thane of Glamis!", "Thane of Cawdor!" and "king hereafter", or become the King of Scotland. Banquo learns that his descendants shall be kings. Banquo is suspicious of the Three Witches, remembering that they often trick men. Macbeth initially agrees but when Ross and Angus tell him he has been made the new Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth in a very important aside (soliloquy), remarks, "Glamis and Thane of Cawdor: / The greatest is behind." Macbeth now first questions Banquo on his feelings about his descendants becoming kings and then starts to think of killing King Duncan to make prophecy fact but later hopes fate alone will spare him the need to kill. Again thunder foreshadows the Three Witches' appearance. The First Witch asks of the second's activities. We learn she has been busy "Killing swine" (Line 2). We learn a sailor's wife had chestnuts, which she denied the Second Witch. Together they resolve to punish the women's husband. "I'll drain him dry as hay: / Sleep shall neither night nor day" the First Witch threatens (Line 18).

We hear drums. Macbeth arrives. He is with his friend Banquo. Banquo is not sure the Three Witches are actually women: "Upon her skinny lips: you should be women, / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret / That you are so" (Line 45).

Macbeth asks them to speak if they can. The First Witch addresses Macbeth as "Thane of Glamis!" (Line 48). The Second Witch pronounces Macbeth as the "Thane of Cawdor!" (Line 49) and the Third Witch as "king hereafter [ever after] " (Line 50).

Banquo asks that his future be told. The Three Witches cryptically comply: "Lesser than King Macbeth, and greater" and "Not so happy, yet much happier" ending with the line, "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:" (Lines 65 -67).

Macbeth demands to know more...

He is already Thane (Lord) of Glamis. But how can he be The Thane of Cawdor and later King when both titles are already taken? The Three Witches vanish.

Macbeth realizes that Banquo's children will be kings, and Banquo realizes that according to the Three Witches' prophecy Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor.

Ross and Angus arrive, informing Macbeth that he is indeed Thane of Cawdor. Banquo is amazed "What! can the devil speak true?" (What! Can the devil be trusted to tell the truth?), (Line 107).

Macbeth makes his first great soliloquy: "Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: / The greatest is behind" (Line 115). Ross and Angus depart, leaving Macbeth and Banquo.

Macbeth darkly (and suspiciously) questions Banquo's ambitions: "Do you hope your children shall be kings, / When those [the witches] that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me



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