Act I, Scene 1
The witches set their plans to meet MacBeth at sunset on the heath after battle.
Act I, Scene 2
The King gets reports on what happened with the battle. MacBeth and Banquo defeated the Norwegians, even when hope seems lost. They were pretty much just the best. That sergeant needed to leave though because his valiant wounds were still bleeding.
The Thane of Ross brings the news that they have won the battle and the traitorous Thane of Cawdor fell. The King decides to keep some of Cawdor’s money for the crown and bestow the title of Thane of Cawdor on to MacBeth. He deserves it.
Act I, Scene 3
One of the witches is going to sink a ship in order to kill one of the men aboard because his wife wouldn’t share her chestnuts with one of the witches. (I mean, it’s rude not to share, but killing her husband feels like a bit of an escalation.)
MacBeth and Banquo come in and immediately start insulting the weird sisters. Banquo is especially harsh. He points out their weird clothes, nasty fingers, skinny lips and beards. (It’s frankly a bit rude.) Then, they all take turns hailing MacBeth. First, as the Thane of Glamis (his current title). Second, as the Thane of Cawdor (a title he doesn’t know he has yet). Third, as king (a title he most definitely does not have.)
MacBeth is taken aback, but Banquo doesn’t understand why. All of that sounds awesome. Banquo wants some good predictions. The witches tell Banquo that he will never be King, but his descendants will be Kings for many years.
MacBeth wants to know more about what they are trying to say. He believes the Thane of Cawdor is still alive, making it impossible for him to have the title. MacBeth wants to know how they are getting their information and what they are doing there. The witches apparently didn’t want to answer his questions, so they just disappear.
Too messengers from the King arrive to tell MacBeth how great he was at battle and that the King is pleased. The King is so pleased, in fact, that he has named MacBeth the Thane of Cawdor. This news catches both MacBeth and Banquo by surprise. The men explain that the former Thane of Cawdor betrayed Scotland, so he is losing his title and his life.
Macbeth launches into a thought spiral about what just happened. The witches told the truth. He is the Thane of Cawdor. That would indicate all of their prophecies are true, which is good. BUT, he is feeling very apprehensive about the whole situation.
As MacBeth is mumbling to himself in the corner, Banquo covers for him. MacBeth finally realizes that he’s being weird and thanks the messengers.
Act I, Scene 4
Duncan confirms that the former Thane of Cawdor has been executed. Apparently Cawdor confessed his crimes and begged for mercy, proving he was a sneak up until the very end.
MacBeth and Banquo enter and Duncan heaps more praises on them both, but especially MacBeth. They decide to all go over to MacBeth’s castle, but not before Duncan names his son as his heir. MacBeth decides to ride ahead to let his wife know that they are coming. He wonders to himself how he could be king if he’s not the king’s heir.
Duncan and Banquo head off behind him.
Act I, Scene 5
Lady MacBeth reads the letter that recounts the whole incident with the witches. She is determined to see MacBeth be named King, but she worries he’s too nice to go about it the easy (violent) way.
A messenger comes in to inform her that the King is coming. She doesn’t believe him at first, but once he tells her MacBeth is coming first, she is pumped. She asks the spirits to take away everything that makes her a woman and make her determined in her dark purpose.
MacBeth comes in and explains that Duncan is only staying the night. Lady MacBeth makes it clear that she wants to murder the King. MacBeth thinks they should talk about it later.
Act I, Scene 6
Duncan comments on how nice MacBeth’s castle is. Lady MacBeth comes to greet them. There are lots of compliments exchanged.
Act I, Scene 7
MacBeth has mixed feelings about the whole murder thing. He’s about to kill his house guest, the King, who has been nothing but nice to him. But, there’s that darn ambition pushing him forward.
Enter Ambition, I mean…Lady MacBeth. MacBeth tells her he’s not going to kill the King or talk about it ever again. The King has been heaping all sorts of praise and honor upon him and it seems rude to kill him after all that. Lady MacBeth scolds her husband for making false promises to her and not being a man about it. She tells him that she would kill her own child if she had promised to do so.
MacBeth still isn’t too sure. He’s worried about failing. Lady MacBeth isn’t. She’s going to get the King’s servants so drunk that they pass out in his chamber. When they’re passed out, MacBeth can sneak in and kill the King with the servant’s daggers. Everyone will assume the servants did it and the MacBeths will make such a show of their grief that no one will suspect them.
This seems like the perfect plan and so MacBeth decides he will kill the King after all.
Act II, Scene 1
Banquo and a guard are talking about the night and the watch, general small talk. MacBeth comes in and Banquo is surprised he is still up. There’s some more small talk before Banquo bring up the witches. MacBeth says he hasn’t even thought about them, but would love to talk about it sometime. Banquo and everyone else leaves.
MacBeth has a vision of a bloody dagger which makes him really think about what he’s about to do. The bell tolls midnight and MacBeth goes to kill the King.
Act II, Scene 2
Lady MacBeth revels in her success of getting the King’s servants drunk. It’s made her drunk with power. She admits she would have killed the King herself in that moment, if it hadn’t been for the fact he looked so much like her father.
MacBeth enters with bloody hands and the daggers. He is in shock over killing the King. He starts rambling about not being able to say amen when the servants stirred and hearing a voice saying that he will never sleep again. It’s pretty clear to Lady MacBeth and the audience that he’s cracking. She tells him to get a hold of himself and put the daggers back. He can’t go in the room, so Lady MacBeth goes to do it.
There’s a knocking at the door, which spooks MacBeth even more. Lady MacBeth reenters with bloody hands. She makes a point of telling MacBeth that her hands are bloody, but she’s not losing her mind. MacBeth keeps freaking out at the repeated knocking. Lady MacBeth tells him to go wash his hands and put on his pajamas. It can’t look like they were running around stabbing people in the night.
Act II, Scene 3
A Porter comes to open the door, but he’s drunk. He imagines the knocking prompts him to open various doors to hell and comment on the sins of the people. Eventually, he actually opens the castle door where MacDuff and Lennox were waiting. MacDuff asks what took so long. The Porter explains that he was drunk and drunkenness provokes three things: red noses, sleep, and pee. It provokes the desire for sex, but inhibits the performance. MacDuff asks if MacBeth is up.
MacBeth appears and welcomes his new guests. They are there to see the King, but he isn’t awake yet. MacBeth leads MacDuff to the room. While MacDuff is in there, Lennox comments on how crazy the night before was. There were terrible storms, the animals were acting weird, the earth shook, and there were horrible prophecies. MacBeth admits that it sounds pretty crazy.
MacDuff comes stumbling out of the room screaming murder. The other two go to see for themselves. MacDuff starts screaming to wake up the whole castle and command the bells to ring. Lady MacBeth wants to know what all the commotion is about. MacDuff doesn’t want to say it to her delicate lady ears, so he tells Banquo when he runs in a moment later. Lady MacBeth is SHOCKED that the King was murdered in her house.
MacBeth comes out of the room wishing he had died before the King because then he could have died happy. Duncan’s sons ask who could have done it and Lennox explains it looked like it was his servants. MacBeth admits to killing them in a fit of rage and grief. The King’s sons see the writing on the wall and decide to flee before getting arrested. Lady MacBeth faints and is carried out.
The men all decide to get there manly wits together and meet in the great hall. Malcolm flees to England and Donalbain to Ireland.
Act II, Scene 4
Ross and his father discuss the contouring strangeness happening all over the country. Owls are flying around in the day time taking down hawks. Duncan’s horses have turned wild and busted out of their stalls. It’s madness.
MacDuff enters to provide some exposition. The King’s sons are the suspected masterminds of the murder, committed by the King’s servants. MacBeth is King now and is on his way to Scone for the coronation. Ross decides to go there. MacDuff is going to Fife.