© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Characters

Macbeth Timeline and Summary

  • Traveling home from their victory on the battlefield, Macbeth and Banquo just so happen to run into three witches.
  • These witches have some fun prophecies to share: Macbeth will be Thane of Glamis, Cawdor, and then King of Scotland. But how? By murder, perhaps? Or simply by waiting for fate to take its course?
  • For the time being, he's happy to pledge his loyalty to Duncan. His wife has other ideas, however—ideas like impugning Macbeth's manhood until he finally says he'll think about it. Geez, lady!
  • Macbeth philosophizes to himself about the pros and cons of murdering the King, his cousin, whom he is sworn to protect, in his own house. Uh, when you put it like that …
  • And at first, Macbeth agrees. But in the end, Lady Macbeth's taunts are too much, and he gives in.
  • After the murder, Macbeth freaks out a little (understandably).
  • He still manages to set up a convincing scenario to frame a bunch of other people for the murder, and then moves quickly on to plotting his next evil dead: getting some murders to kill Banquo. You see, Banquo's very own witch-prophecy is that his kids are going to become king, so obviously he can't stay alive if Macbeth is going to stay king.
  • Meanwhile, Macbeth is banqueting in celebration of his new title.
  • Small problem: Banquo's late. When he finally shows up, he's … a ghost. And only Macbeth can see him. This causes a small freakout.
  • Also freaking out: Lady Macbeth, who's having a bit of a psychotic break about the whole accessory to murder thing.
  • Macbeth heads off to consult with his advisors, a.k.a. the witches, and they reassure him with some goofy prophecies.
  • Meanwhile, basically everyone in the not-yet-United-Kingdom is plotting to dethrone Macbeth.
  • He prepares for battle, confident in the witches' prophecies.
  • Things appear to be going okay, until Macduff shows up with a serious grievance: not only is Macbeth a tyrant, he also murdered Macduff's entire family.
  • Oh, and Macduff just so happens to be the only one who can kill Macbeth, because he wasn't "born" but delivered via C-section.
  • And this is the end of the line for our intrepid, murderous hero.
Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top