By William Shakespeare
Act 1, Scene 5
At Inverness (Macbeth’s castle), his wife reads a letter from Macbeth that tells of his new position as the thane of Cawdor. He also tells her about the witches. Lady Macbeth wishes for her husband to become king, but she questions if he can withstand the pressure. She notes that he may be too full of “th’ milk of human kindness” to capture the throne (1.5.15). However, Lady Macbeth is determined to help her husband win the crown. As Macbeth approaches the castle, Lady Macbeth gives her famous speech. She states, “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” (1.5.38-41). Her speech foreshadows that she will forgo her femininity and do whatever is necessary—even murder—so that Macbeth will become king. When Macbeth arrives, Lady Macbeth alludes to her plans to rid them of King Duncan.
Act 1, Scene 6
King Duncan and his attendants arrive at Inverness. Duncan remarks that he enjoys the castle’s atmosphere, and he praises Lady Macbeth for her generosity. King Duncan is even more pleased to see Macbeth.
Act 1, Scene 7
As his servants set the table for dinner with the king, Macbeth considers what may happen if he kills Duncan. He believes that the assassination would be easy, but he fears that killing the king might cause other unfortunate events to take place. He also realizes that his ambition is his only reason for wanting to kill Duncan.
Lady Macbeth relays to Macbeth that King Duncan has finished his dinner and wants to speak to him. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he no longer desires to kill King Duncan. Lady Macbeth chastises her husband and tells him that they should get King Duncan’s chamberlains drunk, kill the king, and then smear the blood on the chamberlains to make them appear guilty. After hearing his wife’s plan, Macbeth agrees to murder King Duncan. He also expresses...Sign up to continue reading Act 1: Scene 5 to 7 >