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.

Macbeth goes about pondering the act that he has nearly decided to do. He thinks on the nature of the deed, wondering if it’s right to kill a man who is his king and his guest. He thinks on how popular the king is and how virtuous he is and eventually decides that the only reason to kill the king is to serve his own ambitions. When Lady Macbeth reenters the room and Macbeth announces that he’s decided against killing the King, to which she immediately attacks him and his manhood. He asks of the consequences and she declares that they will be fine so long as they remain resolute in their determination. Her plan is to bribe the King’s chamberlains with drink and get them drunk enough that they forget themselves and give up easy access to the King’s chambers. After they are sufficiently drunk, they will sneak in and kill the king, then smear the blood on the drunken chamberlains so as to lay the blame at someone else’s feet. Finally, Macbeth consents, remarking that he hopes their children are male, lest another female such as Lady Macbeth with her “undaunted mettle” is born.

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