Act 1, Scene 1 Three witches discuss their plans to meet Macbeth.
Act 1, Scene 2 Duncan, king of Scotland, hears an account of the success in battle of his noblemen Macbeth and Banquo. Duncan orders the execution of the rebel thane (lord) of Cawdor and sends messengers to announce to Macbeth that he had been given the thane’s title and his lands.
Act 1, Scene 3 The three witches greet Macbeth as “Thane of Glamis” (which he is), “Thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter.” The witches then promise Banquo that he will father kings before they suddenly disappear. Almost as soon as they are gone, Ross and Angus arrive with news that the king has named Macbeth “Thane of Cawdor.” Macbeth contemplates killing Duncan in order to become “king hereafter” as the witches have called him.
Act 1, Scene 4 Duncan receives assurances that the former thane of Cawdor is dead. When Macbeth, Banquo, Ross and Angus join Duncan, he offers thanks to Macbeth and Banquo. He then announces his intention to have his son Malcolm succeed him as king; he also announces his plans to visit Macbeth at Macbeth’s castle at Inverness. Macbeth sets out ahead of Duncan to prepare for the royal visit. Now that Malcolm has been named Duncan’s successor, Macbeth is convinced that he can become king only by killing Duncan.
Act 1, Scene 5 Lady Macbeth reads her husband’s letter about his meeting with the witches. She worries that Macbeth lacks the ruthlessness he needs to kill Duncan and fulfill the witches’ second prophecy. When she learns that Duncan is coming to visit, she calls upon supernatural powers to fill her with cruelty. Macbeth arrives and Lady Macbeth tells him that she will take charge of the preparations for Duncan’s visit and for his murder.
Act 1, Scene 6 Duncan and his attendants arrive at Macbeth’s castle at Inverness. Lady Macbeth welcomes them.
Act 1, Scene 7 Macbeth contemplates the reasons why it is a terrible thing to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth mocks his fears and offers a plan for killing Duncan, which Macbeth accepts.
Act 2, Scene 1 Banquo, who has accompanied Duncan to Inverness, is uneasy because he too is tempted by the witches’ prophecies, although only in his dreams. Macbeth pretends to have forgotten them. Left alone by Banquo, Macbeth imagines a bloody dagger hanging in the air in front of him, leading him to Duncan’s room. Hearing the bell rung by Lady Macbeth to indicate the completion of her preparations, Macbeth exits the stage, heading to Duncan’s room and planning to kill the king.
Act 2, Scene 2 Lady Macbeth waits anxiously for Macbeth to return from killing Duncan. When Macbeth enters, he is horrified by what he’s done. He has brought with him the daggers that he used to kill Duncan instead of leaving them in the room with Duncan’s servants as he and Lady Macbeth had planned. When he finds himself incapable of returning the daggers, Lady Macbeth does so. She returns to find Macbeth still paralyzed with horror and urges him to put on his nightclothes and wash the blood from his hands.
Act 2, Scene 3 A drunken porter, answering the knocking at the gate, imagines being the devil-porter at the gates of Hell. He admits Macduff and Lennox, who have come to wake Duncan. Macbeth appears and greets them. Macduff exits to wake Duncan, then returns to announce Duncan’s murder. Macbeth and Lennox go to see for themselves. When they return, Lennox announces that Duncan’s servants are the murderers. Macbeth reveals that he has slain the servants. When his motives for doing so are questioned, Lady Macbeth interrupts by calling for help for herself. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, plan to flee for their lives – Malcolm to England, Donalbain to Ireland.
Act 2, Scene 4 An old man and Ross exchange stories of recent unnatural happenings. Macduff joins them to report that Malcolm and Donalbain are now accused of having bribed the servants who supposedly killed Duncan. Macduff also announces that Macbeth has been chosen to be king. Ross leaves for Scone and Macbeth’s coronation, but Macduff resolves to stay at his own castle at Fife.
Act 3, Scene 1 Banquo suspects that Macbeth killed Duncan in order to become king. Macbeth invites Banquo to a feast that night. Banquo, who plans to leave Macbeth’s castle that day, promises to ride back that night and be there. Macbeth, fearing that Banquo’s children, not his own, will be the future kings of Scotland, seizes upon this opportunity provided by Banquo’s scheduled return after dark to arrange for his murder. To carry out the crime, Macbeth employs two men whom he has persuaded to regard Banquo as an enemy.
Act 3, Scene 2 Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth express their unhappiness. Macbeth speaks of his fear of Banquo especially. He refers to a dreadful deed that will happen that night but does not confide his plan for Banquo’s murder to Lady Macbeth.
Act 3, Scene 3 A third man joins the two whom Macbeth has already sent to kill Banquo and Banquo’s son, Fleance. The three assassins manage to kill Banquo, but Fleance escapes.
Act 3, Scene 4 As the banquet begins, one of Banquo’s murderers appears at the door to tell Macbeth of Banquo’s death and Fleance’s escape. Retuning to the table, Macbeth is confronted by Banquo’s ghost, invisible to all but Macbeth. While Lady Macbeth is able to explain away Macbeth’s expressions of horror at the ghost’s first appearance, the reappearance of the ghost and Macbeth’s outcries in response to it force Lady Macbeth to send all the guests away. Alone with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth resolves to meet the witches again. He foresees a future marked by further violence.
Act 3, Scene 5 We skipped this one
Act 3, Scene 6 Lennox and an unnamed lord discuss politics in Scotland. Lennox comments sarcastically upon Macbeth’s “official” versions of the many recent violent deaths. The nameless lord responds with news of Macduff’s running off to England to seek help in overthrowing Macbeth.
Act 4, Scene 1 Macbeth approaches the witches to learn how to make his kingship secure. In response they summon for him three apparitions (visions): an armed head, a bloody child, and a child with a crown holding a tree in his hand. These visions instruct Macbeth to beware of Macduff but reassure him that no man born of a woman can harm him, and that he will not be overthrown until Birnam Wood, a forest, moves to Dunsinane. Macbeth is greatly reassured, but his confidence in the future is shaken when the witches show him a line of kings all in the image of Banquo. After the witches disappear, Macbeth learns that Macduff has fled to England. He decides to kill Macduff’s family immediately.
Act 4, Scene 2 Ross visits Lady Macduff and tries to justify Macduff’s flight to England, which has left her and her family defenseless. After Ross leaves, a messenger arrives to warn Lady Macduff to flee. Before she can do so, Macbeth’s men attack her and her son.
Act 4, Scene 3 Macduff finds Malcolm at the English court and urges him to attack Macbeth at once. Malcolm suspects that Macduff is Macbeth’s agent sent to learn Malcolm to his destruction in Scotland. After Malcolm tests Macduff and finds him sincere Malcolm reveals that Edward, king of England, has provided a commander (Siward) and ten thousand troops for the invasion of Scotland. Ross then arrives with the news of the slaughter of Macduff’s entire household. At first grief-stricken, Macduff follows Malcolm’s advice and converts his grief into a desire to avenge himself on Macbeth.
Act 5, Scene 1 A gentlewoman who waits on Lady Macbeth has seen her walking in her sleep and has asked a doctor’s advice. Together they observe Lady Macbeth make the gestures of repeatedly washing her hands as she relives the horrors that she and Macbeth have carried out and experienced. The doctor concludes that Lady Macbeth needs spiritual rather than medical aid.
Act 5, Scene 2 A Scottish force, in rebellion against Macbeth, marches toward Birnam Wood to join Malcolm and his English army.
Act 5, Scene 3 Reports are brought to Macbeth of the Scottish and English forces massed against him. He seeks assurances in the apparitions’ promise of safety for himself. But he is anxious about Lady Macbeth’s condition and impatient with her doctor’s inability to cure her.
Act 5, Scene 4 The rebel Scottish forces have joined Malcolm’s army at Birnam Wood. Malcolm orders each soldier to cut down and carry a bough from the Wood to conceal their numbers from Macbeth.
Act 5, Scene 5 Macbeth is confident that he can withstand any siege from Malcolm’s forces. He is then told of Lady Macbeth’s death and of the apparent movement of Birnam Wood toward Dunsinane Castle, where he waits. He desperately resolves to abandon the castle and give battle to Malcolm in the field.
Act 5, Scene 6 Malcolm arrives with his troops at Dunsinane castle.
Act 5, Scene 7 On the battlefield, Macbeth kills young Siward, the son of the English commander. After Macbeth exits, Macduff arrives in search of him. Dunsinane Castle is surrendered to Malcolm’s forces, which have been strengthened from deserters from Macbeth’s army.
Act 5, Scene 8 Macduff finds Macbeth, who is reluctant to fight with him because Macbeth has already killed Macduff’s whole family and is sure of killing Macduff too if they fight. When Macduff announces that he is not, strictly speaking, of woman born, having been ripped prematurely from his mother’s womb, Macbeth is afraid to fight. He fights only when Macduff threatens to capture him and display him as a public spectacle. Macduff kills Macbeth, cuts off his head, and brings it to Malcolm. With Macbeth dead, Malcolm is now king and gives new titles to his royal supporters.

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