A PowerPoint Summary. Act I, Scene 1. Three witches gather and say that they’ll meet with Macbeth before sunset and after a terrible battle that has been fought nearby. The three witches are later referred to as “the three weird sisters.” Remember: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”.
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The Sergeant says that…
“There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. He (the executed Thane of Cawdor) was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.”
In other words…?
In Technique of the Drama (1863), Gustav Freytag outlined what he considered to be the most successful structure for a play, based on the writings of Aristotle, Shakespeare, and other he considered to be outstanding playwrights. Briefly, Freytag believed the action of the play could be organized in the shape of a triangle, stressing that there should be five distinct parts:
4. Falling action
1. Introduction (exposition)
5. Conclusion (dénoument)
2. “Can all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood from off my hand?”
“To be king is nothing but to be safely king…My immortal soul I have given to the devil to make the children of Banquo kings!”
We did not read this scene. In it, the “chief of the witches”, Hecate, acknowledges that they (the witches) have a firm grasp on Macbeth.
Lennox, who is loyal to Duncan, makes sarcastic remarks about Macbeth to another (unnamed) thane. “Banquo shouldn’t have been out riding late, by himself, alone. He got what he deserved.”
Lennox reveals that Macduff has gone to England, there to join forces with Malcolm and various English noblemen (with the blessing of England’s king, Edward) to raise an army against Macbeth.
We’ve heard three soliloquies from Macbeth up to this point in the play.
Remember: a soliloquy is a long speech that a character delivers aloud and which no other character overhears. The purpose of a soliloquy is to reveal a character’s inner thoughts to the audience. In movies, soliloquies are done using a “voice over,” where we hear a character’s voice, but see that he or she is not speaking.
Soliloquies are usually referred to by their first lines.
I, vi, 1-28: “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.”
II, I, 33- 63: “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”
III, 1, 48-72: “To be thus [king] is nothing, but to be safely thus…”
Macbeth’s returns to the witches and demands more information. They agree to reveal to him three apparitions:
Lady Macduff wonders why her husband has abandoned her and gone so hastily to England. She observes that “even when our actions are not traitorous, our fear can make us look like traitors (lines 3-4).” Regardless of her husband’s true intent, Lady Macduff tells her friend Ross that he has betrayed her and his children… and that he may, in fact be a coward.
Lady Macduff and all of her children are brutally murdered in their undefended castle by Macbeth’s henchmen.
Macduff meets with Malcolm in England. Malcolm confides in Macduff that he (Malcolm) is lustful and greedy. Malcolm wonders if Macduff could support his right to the throne knowing that his evils would make Macbeth look “white as snow” and “innocent as a lamb.”
At first, Macduff reassures Malcolm, suggesting that no one can be as evil as Macbeth has been in his short reign. Soon, though, Macduff admits that not only is Malcolm not fit to be king, he’s not fit to live! (103-4)
Malcolm confesses that he was only testing Macduff’s loyalty. Malcolm is pleased that Macduff has shown himself to be loyal to Scotland, NOT JUST to whoever happens to be on Scotland’s throne.
Lady Macbeth’s maid has summoned a doctor to try to cure Lady Macbeth of sleepwalking. The doctor observes that Lady Macbeth’s seeming wakefulness but absolute unawareness of anything happening around her is quite unnatural (Remember: “Macbeth has murdered sleep” – II, ii, 35).
Lady Macbeth mentions the murders of Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff. All the while she scrubs her hands, trying to wash away imaginary blood that her guilt causes her to see. “Out, damned spot!”( V, i, 27). This reminds us of what Macbeth says in Act II (Can all great Neptune’s ocean wash [Duncan’s blood] from my hands?” (ii, 58-9). Lady Macbeth replies (ironically) that “A little water will clear us of this [bloody] deed.” (II, ii, 66-7).
English soldiers along with Malcolm and Macduff have assembled near Macbeth’s castle.
“Now [Macbeth] feels his hidden murders sticking to his hands.” (Angus: V, ii, 17-8). Sticking… like drying blood.
“His followers act only because they are commanded to do so, not out of love.” (Angus: V, ii, 18-9).
“Now he feels his title of King draped loosely round him, hanging like a giant’s robe upon a dwarf-like thief.” (Angus: V, ii, 19-20).
Macbeth’s men are abandoning him in droves.
Those who remain are terrified of the obviously superior English force gathering near the castle.
Despite his professed confidence in the “safety” guaranteed by the witches’ prophesies, Macbeth seems to be giving-way to panic and fear.
Malcolm orders the soldiers in the woods to “each hew down a branch and carry it before him, thus to conceal the size of our force and trick Macbeth’s reconnaissance into making a false report of us.”
Birnam Wood will appear to be coming to Dunsinane.
Macbeth hears the news that his wife is dead.
His reaction: “She should have died later.” Now is inconvenient. (V, v, 17).
The English forces under Malcolm, Macduff, and Siward capture Macbeth’s castle.
Macbeth kills Young Siward (“You’re obviously a man that was born of woman!”) [V, vii, 12].
Outside, the English forces report that Macbeth’s few remaining men do not even fight. Several have come face-to-face with Malcolm himself and done nothing.
Macduff confronts Macbeth (“Turn, hell-hound, turn!” [V, viii, 3]). Macduff reveals to Macbeth the news that he (Macduff) “was from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d.” (V, viii, 15-6).
Macduff kills Macbeth.
Siward ironically observes that they have been very successful with almost no deaths.
Malcolm immediately assumes his rightful place as King.
The following information, from www.scotchclans.com, explains how the “sons of Banquo” went on to be kings of Scotland (as foretold by the witches).
The Stewart family records its traditional descent from Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, who makes an appearance as a character in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Historically, however, the family appears to be descended from an ancient family who were senechals of Dol in Brittany.
They acquired lands in England after the Norman conquest and moved to Scotland when David I ascended to the throne of Scotland. The family were granted extensive estates in Renfrewshire and East Lothian and the office of High Steward was made hereditary in the family.
It is through marriage with the daughter of Robert the Bruce that we can begin to trace the descent of the Royal House of Stewart. The royal line of male Stewarts continued uninterrupted until the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. As a family, the Royal Stewarts held the throne of Scotland, and later that of England, in the direct line until the death of Queen Anne in 1714. In fact, the present Royal family still has Stewart blood links.