"The Tragedie of MACBETH"

William Shakespeare

- written 1605/06

- place: Scotland

- time: 11th century

- characters:

Macbeth : courageous general and

cousin of Duncan

corrupted by his ambition

to become king

Duncan : good, honest but naive King

of Scotland

Lady Macbeth : ambitious wife of Macbeth

fear and remorse eventually

caused her madness

Banquo : general in Duncan's army

son named Fleance

Malcolm : Duncan's eldest son

named as heir to the throne

Donalbain : Duncan's youngest


Macduff : Scottish general

swears vengeance as his

family was killed by Macbeth

Lennox : nobleman, observer in the play

Ross : cousin of Macduff

messenger in the play

Old Siward : Earl of Northumberland, ally

of Malcolm and Macduff

son named Young Siward

3 witches : supernatural agents of fate

prophesy Macbeth to become

King of Scotland

predict his fall

Hecate : presides over all nocturnal


directs supernatural

happenings & appearances of

mystical apparitions

others : Porter, Menteith, Angus,

Caithness, Seyton

- action:

The two generals Macbeth and Banquo, who have been victorious in the battle against the revolutionaries Macdonwald and the Thane of Cawdor, meet three witches on a heath. These witches greet Macbeth as " Thane of Glamis ", his current title, as " Thane of Cawdor "

and as " King hereafter ". Moreover they say that Banquo will not be king himself but be the father of kings. In between Duncan, the King of Scotland, gives the title " Thane of Cawdor " to the absent

Macbeth.After the witches fly away, two messengers come and greet Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor which means that the first prophecy of the witches is fulfilled. In addition Macbeth learns that Malcolm was appointed " Prince of Cumberland " and therefore is successor to the throne. Macbeth has the idea to kill Duncan and become King himself.

At Macbeth's castle Inverness Lady Macbeth falls in with his plot. Duncan decides to rest at Inverness. While Banquo has no thoughts for the witches'prophecy, the Lady strengthens Macbeth to kill the king and gives drugs to the king's grooms in the bedchamber. Now Macbeth kills Duncan and puts the daggers into the groom's hands. In the morning Macduff discovers the king's death body. In his pretended anger Macbeth kills the two grooms in order to cover up his murder. The king's two sons Malcolm and Donalbain flee Scotland. In the following days Macbeth was crowned at Scone.

Banquo half-suspects Macbeth and gets an invitation to a party at the new King's feast. But Macbeth has engaged two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance who only can kill the former. The ghost of Banquo visits the party at the feast but only Macbeth can see him. He talks to him in horror and Lady Macbeth decides that the guests must go before they can hear the real truth. Inbetween Malcolm goes into an alliance with the powerful Lord Macduff and both try to get help

from Old Siward, the Thane of Northumberland. On the heath the three witches meet with Hecate who brings about Macbeth's fall. After this event Macbeth wants to ask the three for further assurances. Instead of answering by words they show him ghostly appearances: an armed head

which warns him against Macduff, a bloody child which says " none of woman born shall harm " him, a child which holds a tree in his hand and garanties safety until " Birnams Wood comes to Dunsinane " and at last eight kings followed by Banquo who makes gestures which shall show that these kings should be his decendants but were all killed by the two murderers or rather Macbeth.

Later Macbeth encounters Lennox who tells him that Macduff has gone to England. That's the reason why Macbeth vows to kill Macduff's family. As the messenger, who should warn Lady Macduff and her children, arrives at Fife it is already too late - the woman and all others are dead. Macduff himself has no idea of what happened to his family because Malcolm tests his loyalty in England and makes him to an ally. After all Ross enters with the news of the death family and

Macduff swears to kill Macbeth.

Apart from this, Lady Macbeth walks in her sleep and tells the truth about Duncan's death. Macbeth is already preparing for the attack by Malcolm and the others. Unfortunately, Macduff tells every soldier of his army to take boughs from Birnam Wood to carry as camouflage in the assault. Now the witches' prophecy, " till Birnams Wood comes to Dunsinane ", is fulfilled. While Lady Macbeth dies, perhaps by suicide, Macbeth goes to the battle and kills the Young Siward.

Moreover he fights with Macduff who says that he was " from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd " which means that he was "not of woman born " ( another prophecy of the witches ), and can kill Macbeth. The play ends with the presentation of Macbeth's head in Macduff's hand who hails the new King of Scotland,Malcolm.

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