Macbeth Overview (Oxford School Shakespeare)

A Prologue of evil: the witches plan to meet with Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 1
King Duncan is told of the success of the battle and of the bravery shown by Banquo and Macbeth. He decides to reward Macbeth with the title ‘Thane of Cawdor’. Act 1 Scene 2
The witches speak strange prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo – and Ross brings the new title to Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 3
Duncan announces that his son, Malcolm, will be the next king of Scotland – and Macbeth begins to worry. Act 1 Scene 4
Lady Macbeth reads her husband’s letter telling what has happened; she welcomes him home, and then prepares to receive the king. Act 1 Scene 5
King Duncan and his followers approach Macbeth’s castle and are welcomed by Lady Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 6
Macbeth leaves the state dinner, suddenly worried by what he is planning to do – to murder Duncan. But Lady Macbeth stirs up his spirits again. Act 1 Scene 7
Banquo and his son, Fleance, are going to bed when they encounter Macbeth, who is preparing himself for his grim task. Act 2 Scene 1
Macbeth has murdered Duncan. Lady Macbeth takes the bloody daggers away from her husband, who is already beginning to regret what he has done. Act 2 Scene 2
All is discovered. The Porter is roused from his drunken sleep by Macduff and Lennox who go to call upon the king but find he has been murdered. Macbeth panics and kills Duncan’s attendants. Duncan’s sons are afraid for their own safety and slip away secretly. Act 2 Scene 3
Ross and an Old Man discuss the unnatural events that occurred on the night of Duncan’s murder. They learn from Macduff that the king’s two sons have fled, and that Macbeth has been chosen to be the next king. Act 2 Scene 4
Banquo is suspicious – and Macbeth arranges to have him and his son, Fleance, murdered by two hired assassins. Act 3 Scene 1
Lady Macbeth is uneasy. Macbeth assures her that everything is under control, but he refuses to tell her what he is planning. Act 3 Scene 2
Banquo is murdered – but Fleance escapes. Act 3 Scene 3
Macbeth and his wife welcome guests to another state banquet. The Ghost of Banquo appears but only Macbeth can see it, and his strange behaviour startles Lady Macbeth and their guests. Act 3 Scene 4
The witches and their queen, Hecate, prepare the audience for the next meeting with Macbeth. Act 3 Scene 5
Lennox and an unnamed Lord discuss the state of affairs: Malcolm is in England, Macduff has gone to join him, and the English king in raising an army to fight against Macbeth. Act 3 Scene 6
The witches assemble to meet Macbeth, and promise to answer his questions. Their magic Apparitions comfort him at first – and then give cause for alarm. Act 4 Scene 1
Lady Macduff questions Ross about her husband’s flight, and then tries to explain the situation to her little son. A Messenger warns her to flee from the palace, but it is too late and the murderers rush into the room. Act 4 Scene 2
Macduff has joined Malcolm at the court of Edward the Confessor (King of England), and the two men, at first suspicious of each other, test their loyalties. Plans are in hand for an invasion of Scotland by the English king – then Macduff hears of the murder of his wife and children. Act 4 Scene 3
Lady Macbeth suffers from a guilty conscience. She walks in her sleep and dreams that she and her husband are murdering King Duncan. Act 5 Scene 1
A section of the invading army marches towards Dunsinane, and their leaders discuss the enemy, Macbeth, who is showing signs of panic. Act 5 Scene 2
When he is told of the approaching armies, Macbeth tries to comfort himself by recalling the witches’ prophecies. He discusses his wife’s condition with the Doctor, then goes off into battle. Act 5 Scene 3
Malcolm’s soldiers camouflage themselves with branches from the trees of Birnam Wood to mask their approach. Act 5 Scene 4
The battle is at its height when Seyton brings news to Macbeth that his wife has just died. A Messenger tells Macbeth that Birnam Wood is moving towards Dunsinane. Act 5 Scene 5
Malcolm’s army reaches Macbeth’s castle: the battle starts. Act 5 Scene 6
Macbeth encounters Young Siward and kills him. Macduff comes in search of Macbeth, they fight, and Macbeth is killed. Malcolm is proclaimed King. Act 5 Scene 7

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