Macbeth Study Guide

Macbeth

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is a Shakespearian tragedy about Macbeth, a nobleman and renowned warrior. After witches inform him that he will be king, he travels with his companion Banquo to King Duncan's castle. Macbeth's wife, Lady Macbeth, convinces him to kill Duncan and he obeys. After killing Banquo and others, Banquo's ghost returns to the castle, haunting Macbeth. Macbeth receives a tragic prophesy from the witches, Lady Macbeth kills herself out of guilt and King Duncan's son, Prince Malcom, invades the kingdom and kills Macbeth.

The witches reappear on the moor, discussing their powers and the recent acts they’ve managed to complete, one describing her killing swine and another who has planned revenge upon a sailor whose wife did not properly share chestnuts. Macbeth and Banquo soon appear and are addressed by the three witches. They address Macbeth at first as the Thane of Glamis and then as the Thaneof Cawdor. Confused by their statements, Macbeth is further confused when they announce that he will one day be the King of Scotland. As a third prophecy, they announce that Banquo is at the same time lesser and greater than Macbeth and that his sons will sit on the throne but that he will not. Thetwo discuss the prophecies with each other, confused by the encounter until Ross arrives to bring them to the king. He announces to Macbeth that he has been made Thane of Cawdor. Immediately Macbeth begins musing on how the first prophecy came true, asking of Banquo if he would enjoy his sons as kings. Banquo’s response is tempered more than Macbeth’s, saying that these things are often only half truths. Macbeth begins to ponder exactly what the prophecy might mean and whether he could one day be king.

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