Act III, Scene 1
Banquo is concerned that MacBeth acquired the crown through nefarious means. However, since the witches were right about MacBeth, they should be right about him. That should make him happy, shouldn’t it?
Macbeth, Lady MacBeth, and their royal posse enter. MacBeth invites Banquo to dinner. Banquo is going riding, but promises to be back before dinner. There’s a lot to talk about because Duncan’s sons are stirring up trouble in England and Ireland. They are denying their role in the murder and spreading some vicious rumors. But, that discussion is apparently a good dinner time discussion.
Everyone leaves MacBeth alone, at his request, except for a single attendant who is tasked with bringing some other attendants to MacBeth. Once alone, Macbeth expresses his concerns over Banquo. Banquo, after all will be the father of a line of Kings. That can’t be allowed to happen. MacBeth can’t have done all this murder just for someone else’s sons to reap the benefits.
The attendant returns with (surprise!) two murderers. MacBeth apparently spoke to them yesterday about Banquo, but he wants to make sure they are horrible people first, the worst kind of people. They assure him that they are. He explains that he doesn’t like Banquo and would kill him himself, but that would be rather inappropriate. You see, MacBeth needs to stay friendly with people who do like Banquo, so he’ll need to pretend he’s upset about Banquo dying.
The murderers promise to murder Banquo. MacBeth explains that he will give them all the details shortly because it has to be done tonight, away from the castle, and Banquo’s son has to die as well.
Act III, Scene 2
Lady MacBeth confirms that Banquo is gone, but will be returning for dinner. Once a servant assures her that he is, she asks him to go and get MacBeth. Lady MacBeth urges MacBeth to try and let go of the whole murdering the King thing. There’s nothing they can do about it now. Macbeth wishes he could, but there’s still plenty to worry about – like losing the crown. Plus, he keeps having terrible nightmares.
Lady MacBeth asks him if he can at least be pleasant for their guests. He agrees and asks her to do the same, especially with Banquo. They have to cover up the fact that they are actually evil. They do still need to worry about the fact that Banquo and his son are a threat to their crown. Lady MacBeth isn’t that worried about it. MacBeth alludes to some evil-doing, but won’t give Lady MacBeth the details.
Act III, Scene 3
In case we forgot, the murderers remind us that they were hired by MacBeth. Banquo and his son ride through. Banquo gets murdered, but his son escapes. The murderers run off to tell MacBeth that they did half the job, the less important part, but half the job.
Act III, Scene 4
MacBeth and Lady MacBeth welcome their guests to a feast.
The murderer appears at the door and explains to MacBeth that Banquo is dead, but his son escaped. MacBeth is glad that Banquo is at least dead. They have a little time to kill his son. They’ll talk about it more tomorrow.
Lady MacBeth urges him to come and join his guests. He is about to when Banquo’s ghost takes his seat. He demands to know who’s behind the apparition. Since no one else can see it, they are rightfully confused. The guests think they should leave, but Lady MacBeth assures them that MacBeth will be fine in a minute.
MacBeth goes on and on about seeing a ghost, and Lady MacBeth tells him to man up. Eventually the ghost disappears and the MacBeths try to resume their dinner party, dismissing the outburst as some sort of mental affliction.
The ghost appears again and MacBeth immediately loses it again. He commands it to leave and it does, but it’s too late the dinner party is ruined. Lady MacBeth tells all of her guests to leave.
MacBeth wonders why MacDuff didn’t show. Lady MacBeth asks if he invited him. He apparently didn’t. MacBeth decides to go talk to the weird sisters again. He has to know his future.
Act III, Scene 5
Hecate is mad at the witches for telling MacBeth all this stuff about his future, meddling with life and death, without even including her. They can make it up to her though. MacBeth is coming to see them the next day and they should summon spirits and meet her there. In the meantime, she’s going to summon all sorts of spirits to make him go crazy.
Act III, Scene 6
Two Lords recount all of the deaths. Marveling at how many sons seem fit to kill their fathers, since it is assumed that Banquo’s son killed him.On top of that, MacDuff is disgraced because he fled to England to bring back Duncan’s son with some warrior Englishmen and take back Scotland. Apparently MacBeth had sent someone to MacDuff’s house.
Act IV, Scene 1
The witches cast their spell in cauldron with the ingredients getting more and more gruesome as they continue. Hecate is proud of their good work.
MacBeth enters, demanding truthful answers. They ask if he would rather hear it from them, or their masters. He obviously picks the masters because it’s so much more helpful to talk to the supervisor. The first apparition tells him to beware MacDuff. This doesn’t make him happy, so he wants to hear more. The second apparition tells him that no man born of woman can kill him, which makes the whole beware MacDuff thing more confusing. The final apparition tells him that he will not fall until the woods of Birname move against him. This seems unlikely, so MacBeth is pretty happy.
The witches don’t let him off that easy though. They show him the line of Kings that follows Banquo. MacBeth is pretty irritated at this point, so they do a quick dance with Hecate and leave.
MacBeth learns that MacDuff has fled to England and commands that his family be killed.
Act IV, Scene 2
Ross, a lord, explains to Lady MacDuff that her husband has left. This news, understandably, angers Lady MacDuff. Ross tries to tell her that MacDuff is doing a good and honorable thing. She is having none of that because he left her and his kids behind. Ross assures her that it will be fine and leaves.
Lady MacDuff tells her son that his father is dead and asks what her will do now. Her son gives quipped answers about birds because he knows his father isn’t really dead. He asks Lady MacDuff what she will do without a husband. She scoffs that she can buy twenty husbands at the local market.
There’s more snark exchanged until a messenger enters with a warning that they need to leave before running off himself.
Lady MacDuff wonders where to go, but it’s too late. The murderer is there. He calls her husband a traitor. When little MacDuff stands up for his father, he gets stabbed and dies. Lady MacDuff flees, crying murder.