MACBETH – Act 1 summary

Scene 1

Characters : Three witches

Location : An open deserted space

Time: Unsure (some time before the battle?)

Events : Three witches stand around a steaming cauldron  and discuss when they are going to meet again.

Quotes: “fair is foul, and foul is fair”(all A1, S1)Paradox “When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won” (Witch 2 A1, S1)Witch two is saying they will meet again when the noise of the battle is over and when one side has one and the other has lost

Scene 2

Characters: Duncan, Malcolm, Captain, Lenox, Rosse

Location: A camp near the battle grounds

Time: After the battle when Macbeth killed Macdonwald

Events: The battle has just come to an end and king Duncan is being informed on how the battle went down from his wounded captain. Ross tells the king that Macbeth was a courageous and valued fighter in the battle, and he killed their enemy Macdonwald. Ross also lets the king know they won the battle!

Quotes: “As two spent swimmers that do cling together, And choke their art.(Captain s2) this quote describes how the two enemies were neck in neck at the beginning of the battle and how it was hard to determine who would come out on top. “What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.” (Duncan s2) Meaning the death of Macdonwald is Macbeth’s prize because i means he will become the thane of cawdor.


Scene 3

Character: 3 witches, Macbeth, Banquo, Rosse, Angus

Location: Upon the heath, the meeting place planned in scene 1

Events: The witches discuss their their plan to stop a sailor from completing his voyage because his wife has been rude to one of the witches. They then go on to talk about Macbeth’s future where they say he is going to become ‘the thane of cawdor’ and after that king. They are supposedly predicting the future. They also tell  Banquo his future will not be him being king but his descendants will be. Rosse and Angus inform Macbeth that in return to his bravery his is being crowned ‘thane of cawdor’, meaning the witches prediction was true. Macbeth presumes that the other predictions from the witches must also be true and starts to create a plan to kill the king (Duncan) so he can become king. Banquo warns the witches that Macbeth is turning evil because of their predictions.

Scene 4

Character: Ducan, Malcolm, Donalbain, lenox, Macbeth, Banquo,

Location: A room in the kings palace

Time: After the battle

Events: Duncan’s son Malcolm tells everyone that the execution of the former thane of cawdor has been done, and Duncan thanks Macbeth and Banquo for their job well done (killing him). Macbeth believes his actions will award him Duncan’s throne but Duncan awards him as the the new thane of cawdor and Duncan announces that the next king is to be his eldest son Malcolm. Macbeth is suprised and angered by this news, as he wants to be king.



“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 the hand, yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

” (Macbeth)

Macbeth says this passage to himself and to the audience. This is an important aside because Macbeth is reacting to the king giving the thrown to his eldest son and not Macbeth.  He talks about the stars, heaven, god shielding or hiding and not watching his actions because he is about to bring out his dark side. When he references ‘eyes’ he is referring to himself and how he has self denial about his thoughts about killing the king.


Scene 5

Characters: Lady Macbeth, Macbeth

Location: A room in Macbeth’s castle

Events: Lady Macbeth reacts to a letter from Macbeth about what has happened and the witches predictions. She reflects on what Macbeth has said, and decides she needs to take action if her and Macbeth are to be king and queen. She thinks Macbeth is to weak and to kind to hurt anyone, so she is glad to hear that the king Duncan will be staying in their castle tonight, she plans to kill him. She asks the spirits to help her with this bad deed and when Macbeth enters tells him to leave it up to her.


Explore language techniques throughout lady Macbeth’s passage

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 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 murd’ring ministers,
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!”
(Lady Macbeth)
“It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly,”
(Lady macbeth) Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth is to kind to kill someone, he is weak and she is not.
“Look like th’ innocent flower,
But be the serpent under ’t. ” (Lady Macbeth)
referencing how she wants Macbeth to be perceived on the outside and his thoughts on the inside.
“Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here” (Lady Macbeth) She asks the evil spirits to help her do this bad deed and asks to be stripped of her famine perceptions so she is not perceived as weak but strong and capable. 
“Only look up clear.
To alter favor ever is to fear.
Leave all the rest to me.”
(Lady Macbeth) Leave it to me and remain calm
Scene 6
Characters: Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macbeth
Location: Outside Macbeth’s castle
Events: King Duncan arrives to Macbeth’s castle and is welcomed by lady Macbeth. They enter the castle and Duncan admires it and thanks Lady Macbeth for letting him stay.
“See, see, our honored hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love.” (Duncan A1, S6)
Duncan is saying that the love of his subjects can sometimes trouble him or bring troublesome events, but never the less he excepts it as love anyway. This quote is important because he almost predicts that Lady Macbeth is putting on a ‘fake’ love when welcoming him into the castle because she has planned to kill him during his stay. 
Scene 7
Character: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth
Location: A room in Macbeth’s castle
Events: Macbeth is second guessing lady Macbeth’s plan, because he is related to king Duncan, he fought for king Duncan, and he thinks king Duncan is a good and honourable person. When Lady Macbeth enter Macbeth tells her that he doesn’t want to go ahead with their plan. Lady Macbeth is furious and disappointed in Macbeth and tells him how weak, and delicate he is. She convinces him to keep the plan.
Quotes: “Might be the be-all and the end-all here,” (Macbeth) This is a common saying used today that was created by Shakespeare
“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?” (Lady Macbeth)
Lady Macbeth is disappointed and angry that Macbeth has changed his mind, she says ‘were you drunk when you agreed to killing the king, have you now woken from your sleep and are now full of fear’ she is trying to understand why Macbeth has changed his mind
“Bring forth men-children only,
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males.
Bring forth men-children only,” (Macbeth)
Says this to Lady Macbeth and is saying that a lady with such strength, and evil thoughts can only produce men (because their strong and woman are not)

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
 (Macbeth) Macbeth says this line when lady macbeth has convinced him to kill the king




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