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by William Shakespeare

Macbeth Act 2, Scene 3 Summary

  • Now that Shakespeare's given us a murder and a lot of spooky crazy talk from Macbeth, we're obviously ready for a brief, comedic interlude.
  • There's a ton of knocking and the Porter (the guy who's supposed to answer the door) does a lot of joking around about what it would be like to be a porter of "hellgate."
  • Apparently, a porter in hell would be a busy guy since there are so many evil and corrupt people in the world.The Porter says maybe there's an "equivocator" at the door.
  • It's Macduff and Lennox, who have come to fetch the king.
  • The laugh-a-minute Porter makes a bunch of jokes about how drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, like he's been doing, makes a man frisky —but it also detracts from his "performance" in the sack, not to mention turning his nose red and making him have to pee.
  • Enter Macbeth, the picture of sleepy innocence while he makes small talk with Lennox and sends Macduff to wake Duncan.
  • Lennox notes that some spooky things have been happening all night —he heard a bunch of screams, there was a little earthquake, and the fire in his chimney blew out.
  • Yep, says Macbeth, it was a pretty rough night.But not as rough as it was for Duncan, who Macduff has just found murdered.
  • Everyone starts running around, Lady Macbeth and Banquo show up, and then Macbeth starts a way-too-eager eulogy about the King's great virtues.
  • So, who murdered the king? Lennox thinks that the drunken guards covered in the King's blood and holding their daggers are a good bet.
  • Macbeth casually announces that he killed both of the guards in a fit of pious rage, out of his love for the King.
  • Apparently, no one thinks it's weird that the guards went to sleep with the bloody daggers in hand.
  • Lady Macbeth, upon hearing that Macbeth has done this, needs to be escorted out (this was not part of her plan).
  • Donalbain and Malcolm privately decide that they probably shouldn't stay in the house where their dad was killed. Good thinking. A+ for self-preservation. 
  • Malcolm will go to England and Donalbain to Ireland, making it more difficult to murder them both.
  • The dead king's sons slip out, unnoticed, while everyone else … gets dressed. Yeah.

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