Macbeth Act by Act Summary

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  • Topic: Macbeth
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Act I. sc. I 
Setting: deserted heath; storming
* Three witches chant
* First witch asks when the three witches will meet again. * Second witch answers that they will meet after the battle is over. * Third witch says they'll meet Macbeth tonight.
* They all cackle that things are not as they seem and fly away. Act I. sc. II 
Setting: army camp near King Duncan's castle
* A sergeant comes from the battle to report to King Duncan how the war is going * The sergeant reports that at first the victor was in doubt. * The sergeant says that the rebel, McDonwald, seemed to be winning till brave Macbeth split him open * The sergeant continues saying that no sooner was this battle won and then the lord of Norway attacked with an army. * Ross says that Norway was assisted by the traitor, Thane of Cawdor, but both were defeated by Macbeth. * King Duncan announces he will kill the traitor Cawdor and give his land and title to Macbeth as a reward for his service.

Act I. sc. III 
Setting: abandoned heath
* First witch tell others she has cursed a man because his wife would not give him her chestnuts. * The man will be lost at sea, have no sleep, and become very weak, but will not die. * Witches chant.

* Macbeth and Banquo question the reality of the witches. * First witch says that Macbeth is Thane of Glamis.
* Second witch says Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor.
* Third witch prophesies that Macbeth will be king.
* Banquo asks to be told his fortune.
* First witch prophesies that Banquo will be "Lesser than Macbeth and greater." * Second witch prophesies that Banquo will be "not so happy, yet much happier" than Macbeth. * Third witch prophesies than Banquo will father kings but not be one. * Witches hail Macbeth and Banquo.

* Witches vanish.
* Ross greets Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor.
* Ross tells Macbeth and Banquo that the current thane of Cawdor has been sentenced to death because he is a traitor. * Macbeth begins to think of killing King Duncan.
* Macbeth decides not to do anything, other than his usual routine, in order to get the crown. * Macbeth and Banquo will meet later to chat.

Act I. sc. IV 
Setting: King Duncan, in his castle, awaits news
* King Duncan asks if the Thane of Cawdor has been executed. Malcolm, his son, responds that he heard he is dead and that he died with much dignity, even more than with which he lived. The Thane of Cawdor confessed his treason and asked for pardon but it was not given to him. * King Duncan reflects than one cannot read people's thoughts on their face. Before treason he fully trusted the Thane of Cawdor. * Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus enter the room. Duncan greet Macbeth, calling him his worthiest cousin, and saying that thanks and recompense are not enough to pay for all he did in battle. The king also greets and embraces Banquo. * Macbeth responds to the king's greeting by confessing that to be loyal and serve him is enough payment. * King Duncan announces that Malcolm, his son, is to be future king and names him Prince of Cumberland. Also, the king tells Macbeth that the royal family is going to Inverness. Macbeth departs before they do to prepare for their arrival. * Aside to himself Macbeth feels he must destroy Malcolm because he stands in his way to being king. Act I. sc. V 

Setting: Lady Macbeth enters Inverness reading a letter from Macbeth. Summary:
* In the following letter Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth what follows: *  Macbeth says that the three witches that meet him and Banquo (after winning the battle) have supernatural powers. The witches vanished into the air when he wanted to ask them something and he stood amazed. After the witches vanished Duncan's Messenger came greeting him as Thane of Cawdor. The three Weirs Sisters or witches had already called him Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that...
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