Plot Events: Banquo and his son Fleance are on their way to bed when they meet Macbeth. He is nervously awaiting the signal to murder Duncan.
Banquo and his son Fleance are in the courtyard of Macbeth’s castle.
- Banquo asks his what time it is; his son replies the moon has set, but the clock hasn’t struck
- Banquo asks, the moon sets at twelve right, and Fleance replies I think it’s later than that.
- Banquo instructs Fleance to take his sword, saying the heavens are being stingy with their light. He asks Fleance to take something else (perhaps a cloak), because he’s tired and feeling heavy, and this can’t sleep. He says to the merciful powers to keep away nightmares that plague him when he rests.
Macbeth enters with a servant.
- Banquo asks for his sword back from his son. Then Banquo asks, “who’s there”
- Macbeth answers by saying a friend.
- Banquo asks why he isn’t asleep yet, and adds the king’s in bed; he adds that the king is in an unusually good mood and has granted many fits to your household and servant
- Banquo hands Macbeth a diamond, saying it was a present from Duncan to Lady Macbeth, for her hospitality
- Macbeth says because they were unprepared for the king’s visit, they weren’t able to entertain him as he would’ve liked
- Banquo said it was fine entertainment. He adds that he dreamt last night about the witches, and part of their prophecies came true (Fleance becoming King)
- Macbeth replies saying he hasn’t thought about them. He does add that when they have free time, they can talk about it more; Banquo replies they’ll do whatever Macbeth pleases
- Macbeth says to Banquo that if Banquo sticks with Macbeth, when the time comes, there will be something for Banquo
- Banquo says he’ll do whatever Macbeth says, as long as what he has to do is moral/right
- Macbeth tells Banquo to rest easy in the meantime; Banquo tells Macbeth the same
Banquo and Fleance exit, leaving Macbeth alone with his servant.
- Macbeth tells his servant to tell Lady Macbeth to strike the bell when his drink is ready. He then tells the servant to get ready to go to bed.
The servant exits.
- Macbeth talks to himself when he sees a dagger by saying does the dagger in front of him point its handle at him; to the dagger he says, come let me hold you
- Macbeth tries to grab at it, but he grasps nothing but air; he wonders why he can see it but can’t touch it, thinking perhaps it’s a hallucination
- Macbeth pulls out his own dagger and says to himself they both look the same, so why can’t eh hold the other dagger
- the hallucinated dagger leads him to Duncan’s room—he begins to see blood on the blade of the hallucinated dagger
- he realizes there in fact is no dagger, but instead that the murder he’s about to commit is what makes him see it
- he says to himself that half the world is asleep and being deceived by evil nightmares, and witches are offering sacrifices to their goddess Hecate
- claims murder was roused by the wolf, and walks silently to his destination (Duncan’s room) quietly
- he tells the ground not to listen to his footsteps, because he doesn’t want any echoes to disturb the silence
- he compares the murder to Tarquin, a Roman who came in the night to rape his friend’s wife
A bell rings.
- Macbeth tells himself he’s going now—the murder is as good as done
- the bell tells Macbeth to do the murder
- in his mind he tells Duncan not to listen to the bell, cause it summons him to either heaven or hell
Plot Events: Lady Macbeth waits for her husband, who comes from Duncan’s room with bloody hands.
Lady Macbeth is in the courtyard of Macbeth’s castle.
- Lady Macbeth says to herself that the alcohol which got the servants drunk has made her bold—the liquor that quenched Duncan’s guard’s thirsts fired her up
- an owl screeched, like the bells which ring before they execute a person
- Lady Macbeth believes Macbeth must be killing the king at the moment; she says the doors to Duncan’s chambers are open, and the drunk servants make a mockery of their jobs as they’re sleeping instead of protecting
- she says that she put so many drugs in the servants’ alcohol, that she couldn’t tell if they were dead or alive
- from the distant, Lady Macbeth hears Macbeth call: “Who’s there? What is it?”
- Lady Macbeth worries the servants woke up and the murder didn’t happen—she knows that if they didn’t succeed in the murder, it would ruin them
- Lady Macbeth hears a noise—she recalls putting the servants’ daggers where Macbeth would easily find them; Macbeth couldn’t have missed it
- she recalls that if Duncan hadn’t reminded her of her father when Duncan was sleeping, she would’ve killed Duncan himself
Macbeth enters carrying bloody daggers.
- Lady Macbeth calls, “My Husband!”
- Macbeth replies by saying he has done the deed, and asked his wife he she heard the noise
- Lady Macbeth says she heard the owl scream and the crickets cry, and said Macbeth must’ve said something
- Macbeth asks when she heard that, and Lady Macbeth said just now when Macbeth was coming down the stairs
- Macbeth asks who’s sleeping in the second chamber, and Lady Macbeth says Donalbain
- Macbeth looks at his bloody hands and says it’s a sorry sight (his hands)
- Macbeth tells his wife that one of the servants laughed in his sleep, while one cried “Murder”, and they each woke up; then they said their prayers and went back to sleep
- Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth Duncan’s two sons sleep in the same room
- Macbeth continued his story, and said one servant said “God bless us” and the other replied “amen” as if they had seen Macbeth’s bloody hands; he recalled not being able to say “Amen” when they said “God bless us”
- Lady Macbeth tells her husband not to think about it so much
- Macbeth continues asking why he couldn’t say “amen”, despite desperately needing God’s blessing
- Lady Macbeth says they can’t think about what they did, or else it’d drive them crazy
- Macbeth says he thought he heard a voice cry “Sleep no more! Macbeth is murdering sleep.”
- he says sleep that soothes away all our worries, and puts each day to rest, and relieves the weary labour and heals hurt minds
- Lady Macbeth asks Macbeth what he’s talking about, and Macbeth told her the voice kept crying “sleep no more” to everyone in the house, as well as “Glamis has murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more”
- Lady Macbeth asks who the voice was, and asks her husband why he lets himself become weak when he thinks about things like a coward; she tells Macbeth to wash the bloody evidence from his hands
- she notices Macbeth holding the daggers, and tells Macbeth to put them back and smear the blood on the guards as well
- Macbeth says he can’t go back because he’s afraid of what he’s done
- Lady Macbeth calls her husband a coward, and takes the daggers; she tells Macbeth dead and sleeping people can’t hurt you and more than pictures can
- she says only children are afraid of scary pictures, and if Duncan bleed she’ll paint the servants’ face with his blood in order to frame the servants
Lady Macbeth exits and a knocking is heard at the gate of the castle.
- Macbeth asks himself where the knocking is coming from. He wonders what’s happening to him as he’s frightened of every noise
- Macbeth looks at his hands, and says the hands are plucking out his eyes (Macbeth’s eyes are almost falling out of his head at the sight of the blood); he wonders if all the water in the ocean could wash the blood from his hands
- he thinks his hands would stain the seas scarlet, turning the green waters red
Lady Macbeth enters/returns.
- Lady Macbeth returns and says her hands are as red as Macbeth’s, and she would be ashamed if her heart was as pale and weak as Macbeth’s
Knocking is heard.
- Lady Macbeth says she hears knocking at the south entry; she tells her husband they should go back to their bedroom, and that a little water will wash away the evidence of their guilt
- Lady Macbeth continues to say there’s knocking; she tells Macbeth to put on his nightgown in case someone comes and sees they’re awake
- she tells Macbeth to snap out of his daze
- Macbeth says he’d rather be unconscious than think about the crime; if he mist recognize what he’s done, it would be better that he didn’t recognize himself (because then the deed is damnable, and he would have to condemn himself)
- Macbeth wishes that Duncan could be woken up with the knocking
Plot Events: the murder is discovered. The Porter is roused from his drunken sleep by Macduff and Lennox. They go to call upon the king but find that he’s dead. Macbeth panics and kills Duncan’s attendants, explaining that he did this from a sense of outraged loyalty and grief. Duncan’s 2 sons are afraid for their safety, and so they slip away secretly.
A porter (doorkeeper) who is obviously drunk enters the courtyard of Macbeth’s castle.
- Porter says there’s a lot of knocking; he remarks that if a porter was in charge of opening the gates of hell to let people in, he would’ve turn the key a lot
- Porter says, “knock, knock, knock” pretending he’s the gatekeeper in hell); he asks “who’s there in the devil’s name? Maybe it’s a farmer who killed himself because grain was cheap” (farmer was hoping for a famine so he could see crops high, but turned out crops were plenty and forced to sell cheap)
- he pretends to talk to the imaginary farmer, and says “you’re here just in time; I hope you brought some handkerchiefs because you’re going to sweat a lot here”
- Porter continues to say “knock, knock, who’s there in the other devil’s name; maybe it’s some slick two-faced con man who lied under oath, but found out he can’t lie to God, and is now going to hell for perjury”
- Porter continues to say “knock, knock, knock; who’s there; maybe it’s an English tailor who liked to skimp on the fabric for people’s clothes, but now that tight pants are in fashion, he can’t get away with it” (stole fabric )
- he tells the imaginary tailor to come in, and that he can’t heat his iron up here (in hell)
- Porter continued to say “knock, knock; never a moment of peace; who are you”
- adds in that this place is too cold to be hell, and says he won’t pretend to be the devil’s porter anymore; claims he was going to let someone from every profession enter hell
- Porter yells that he’s coming, and tells the person knocking to please not forget to leave a tip
Porter opens the gate and Macduff and Lennox enter.
- Macduff asks the Porter did he go to bed late, and was that why he was having a hard time getting up
- Porter replies that it was late when he went to bed, because everyone was drinking until 3 A.M., and claims that alcohol makes a man do 3 things
- Macduff asks what the 3 things are, and the Porter says they are:
- turns your nose red
- puts you to sleep
- makes you urinate
- Porter also adds that alcohol can turn the lust on/off (stimulates desire, but hinders performance—too much drink is like a con artist when it comes to sex drive, as it sets you up for a fall; gets you up but keeps you from getting off)
- drink also persuades and discourages you; it gives you an erection but doesn’t let you keep it; it makes you dream about erotic experiences, but then it leaves you asleep needing to pee
- Macduff tells the Porter he believes the alcohol made the Porter everything which he just described
- Porter replies that the alcohol indeed did do that, and claims the alcohol got him right behind the throat
- Porter claims he was stronger than the drink, as the drink weakened his legs and made him unsteady, he managed to vomit it out and laid it flat on the ground
- Macduff asks the Porter if his master is awake
- Porter sees Macbeth entering, and says the knocking must’ve woke him up
- Lennox says good morning to Macbeth, and Macbeth replies good morning to Lennox and Macduff
- Macduff asks if the king is awake, and Macbeth says not yet
- Macduff tells Macbeth that the king commanded Macduff to wake the king up early; Macduff says he almost missed the time the King requested
- Macbeth tells Macduff that he’ll bring Macduff to the King
- Macduff tells Macbeth that he knows the burden of hosting the king is both an honour and a trouble; he does tell Macbeth that it’s still trouble just the same
- Macbeth tells Macduff that by doing work he enjoys, it cures the work of the trouble it causes
- Macbeth points to the door. Macduff says he’ll wake up the King since that’s his job
- Lennox asks Macbeth if the King is leaving today, and Macbeth replies yes
- Lennox tells Macbeth that the night has been chaotic, as the wind blew down through the chimney where Lennox and Macduff were sleeping
- he tells Macbeth people are saying they heard cries of grief in the air, strange screams of death and terrible voices predicting catastrophes that will usher in a woeful new age (compares the night to the battle with Norway); saiod the Earth shook
- Macbeth replies it was indeed a rough night; Lennox says he’s too young to remember another night similar to this one
Macduff enters, upset.
- Macduff cries “oh horror, horror, horror! This is beyond words and beyond belief”
- Macduff and Lennox both ask “what’s the matter”
- Macduff says the worst thing imaginable has happened—a murderer has broken into God’s anointed temple (when Duncan was king, he was anointed to show he was God’s representative on Earth) , and stole the life from it
- Macbeth asks “what are you talking about; the life?”
- Lennox understands, and asks “do you mean the king”
- Macduff tells Macbeth and Lennox to go into the bedroom to see for themselves because Macduff doesn’t want to explain it; he tells them that what they’ll see will freeze them with horror
Macbeth and Lennox exit, leaving Macduff alone.
- Macduff yells for everyone to wake up and for people to ring the bell, because murder and treason occurred. He orders Banquo, Donalbain, and Malcolm to shake off sleep (which looks like death), and look at death itself
- he continues yelling, telling people to wake up as if they’re rising from their own graves, and to walk like ghosts to witness the horror
- asks for someone to ring the bell
A bell rings. Lady Macbeth enters.
- Lady Macduff asks what’s going on and why he was waking everyone up
- Macduff says to lady Macbeth that the news isn’t fit for her ears, and that if he told her, it would kill her as soon as she heard it
- Macduff calls to Banquo, telling him Duncan was murdered.
- Lady Macbeth hears, and says “how horrible; in our own house?”
- Banquo replies saying the King’s death would be horrible no matter where it happened; he asks Macduff to say he’s lying and that the King isn’t actually dead
Macbeth and Lennox re-enter; Ross is with them
- Macbeth says if he died an hour before knowing of Duncan’s death, he could’ve lived a blessed life, because after learning of the news, he says there’s nothing worth living for, and everything is a toy (not serious)
- claims the graceful and renowned king is dead, and the wine of life has been poured out, and only the dregs remain
Malcolm and Donalbain enter.
- Donalbain asks what’s wrong
- Macbeth tells Donalbain that Donalbain is wrong, but he just doesn’t know it yet; he tells Donalbain that the source from which Donalbain’s royal blood comes from has been stopped
- Macduff explains that Duncan is ordered
- Malcolm asks who killed his father
- Lennox says it appeared as if the guards did it since their hands and faces were covered with blood and their daggers as well; he tells Malcolm that when he saw the guards, they looked at him with confusion; Lennox further adds in that the guards shouldn’t have been trusted with anyone’s life
- Macbeth then adds that despite the events, he regrets the anger that drove him to kill the guards
- Macduff asks Macbeth why he killed the guards
- Macbeth asks if it’s possible to be wise, bewildered, calm, furious, loyal and neutral all at once. He answers his own question by saying it’s not possible
- he explains the violent rage inspired by his love for Duncan caused him to act before he could think rationally and tell himself to pause
- Macbeth said Duncan who had his white skin splattered with his blood with gashes where the knives had cut him looked like wounds to nature itself; right beside Duncan, Macbeth saw the murderers dripping with blood, their daggers covered in blood, and Macbeth couldn’t contain himself
- Lady Macbeth asks someone to help her out of there, and Macduff instructs someone to take care of the lady
- Malcolm asks Donalbain why the brothers were keeping quiet, when they had the most to say on this matter
- Donalbain replies asking Malcolm why they’re still in the castle, when danger might be waiting to strike them from anywhere; he suggests they get out of there ASAP; he tells Malcolm they’ll weep later
- Malcolm replies saying that the time hasn’t come for them to turn their grief into action yet
- Banquo tells someone to take care of the lady.
Someone carries Lady Macbeth out.
- Banquo tells everyone that they should go to their rooms and properly dress for the cold. He says they’ll meet and discuss the bloody crime to see if they can figure anything out
- he says that everyone right now is shaken by fears and doubts
- he says that he’s putting himself in God’s hands, and with God’s help, he can fight against the secret plot that caused the King’s death
- Macduff agrees with Banquo
- everyone else then says they agree as well
- Macbeth tells everyone they should dress quickly and meet in the hall
- everyone agrees
Everyone exits except Malcolm and Donalbain.
- Malcolm asks what they’re going to do—he suggests they can’t stay here with them, as he believes it’s easy for a liar to pretend to feel sorrow when he actually feels none
- he tells Donalbain he’s going to England
- Donalbain says he’ll go to Ireland; he tells Malcolm that they’ll both be safer if they go separate ways
- he says where ever they go, men will smile at them while holding daggers in their hands; he believes their closest relatives are the ones most likely to murder them
- Malcolm says they haven’t encountered that danger yet, and the best thing to do is avoid it entirely
- he tells Donalbain they shouldn’t worry about saying polite good-byes, as they need to get away quickly, as there’s good reason to escape when there’s no mercy to be found anymore
Plot Events: 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 sons have fled, and that because of this, they’re suspected of having bribed their father’s servants to murder him. Macduff also tells them that Macbeth has been chosen as king, and that he has gone to Scone for the coronation.
Ross and an Old Man are outside Macbeth’s castle.
- Old Man says he can remember the past 70 years very well, and in all that time he has seen dreadful hours and strange things, but nothing like the horrors of “last night”
- Ross replies ”ah yes old man” and says he could see the skies and it looked upset about what mankind was doing and threatening Earth with storms; as well the clock says its daytime, but dark night is strangling the sun; he wonders if it’s because night is strong, or because day is weak that allows darkness to cover the Earth when it’s supposed to be light
- the Old Man says it’s unnatural, like the murder that has been committed; he says last Tuesday a falcon was circling the sky, and it was caught and killed by an ordinary owl, despite owls usually only going after mice
- Ross says stranger things have happened, such as Duncan’s beautiful and swift horses suddenly turning wild and breaking free from their stalls, refusing to be obedient like usual (looked as if they were at war with mankind)
- the Old Man says he heard rumours saying the horses ate each other
- Ross tells the Old Man he saw the horses eat each other and it was an amazing sight; he sees Macduff
- Ross asks Macduff how he’s doing; Macduff replies by asking Ross can’t he see himself
- Ross asks does anyone know who committed the horrible crime; Macduff tells Ross the servants Macbeth killed did it
- Ross says it’s too bad Macbeth killed him, since it did no good to kill the men that killed Duncan
- Malcolm tells Ross the servants were paid to betray the king—Malcolm and Donalbain had run away and fled, making them the prime suspects
- Ross replies it very unnatural—what a stupid ambition causing a son to kill the father who supports him; he adds that it looks like Macbeth will be king
- Macduff tells Ross Macbeth has already been named king and has left for Scone to be crowned
- Ross asks where Duncan’s body is; Macduff says it was carried to Colmekill to be placed in the tomb with his ancestors, and there his bones will be kept safe
- Ross asks Macduff if he’s going to Scone; Macduff says he’s going to Fife
- Ross says he’s going to Scone
- Macduff tells Ross he hopes things go well there; Macduff says good-bye and he tells Ross he hopes things don’t get worse
- Ross says to the old man, farewell
- the Old Man says “may God’s blessing go with you and with all who turn bad into good, and enemies into friends”