Essay on macbeth act 1 scene 1

Duncan then asks if this awed Macbeth and Banquo. They were so excited by this that it gave them new strength with which to pursue their enemies. The Sergent then grows faint and askes that his wounds be tended to. Duncan praises both Macbeth and Banquo and tells his attendants to take the Sergent to the surgeons. Duncan then asks where Ross had come from. Ross answers that he came from Fife where the Norwayans have taken over thanks to the traitor thane of Cawdor until Macbeth killed him and the victory fell to Scottland.

And that now Sweno, the Norways' king is upset in the fact that we deny them burial of his troops until he left the battlefield and payed ten thousand dollars to the Scotts. Thunder as the three witches enter, they ask eachother of their recent doings. Then enter Macbeth and Banquo. Banquo seeing the witches begins to jest and jeer at the wierd sisters saying You should be women, but your skinny beards forbid me to see you as such.

The witches speak in prophecy, they hail Macbeth as the thane of Glamis, Cawdor and as future king. This prophecy seems to upset Macbeth and Banquo notices, saying Why do you seem afraid of this good news? He then asks the witches why they greeted Macbeth with wonderful news of the future and not him?

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He demands they tell him of his future, if they can see it. The witches speak in riddles. Macbeth is confused and demands of them to tell him more, he knows he is the thane of Glamis, but how is he the thane of Cawdor? He then chides about the prospect of being king and how that is beyond belief. He demands they tell him more and they vanish.

Banquo and Macbeth comment on how the witches dissapear into nowhere and Macbeth comments on how he wishes they'd have stayed. Banquo asks if that had really happened or if they had been hallucinating, Macbeth and banquo laugh about the matter as if the witches had been joking.

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Addressing Macbeth they tell him of how the king had heard of his valiant deeds in battle and praised him. They tell Macbeth that though the thane of Cawdor is still alive, he won't be for long and that Macbeth had earned to be called by that title. Macbeth thanks Ross and Angus for their telling him the news. Then asks Banquo, don't you hope now that your children will be kings? Banquo warns Macbeth that sometimes a person will tell a minor truth to gain trust to betray them later.

Macbeth thinks to himself, if it is not good, and it is not bad, if it is good why is he afraid of it? The king asks if Cawdor has been executed. Malcolm tells him that the men sent had not come back yet but that he spoke to a man who saw him die and that he confessed all his sins and begged for his life.

Macbeth leaves and thinks to himself that the prince of Cumberland is an obstacle in his becoming king. He tells himself that his dark thoughts and feelings must never come to light.

Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth in which he tells her of the witches prophecy and his becoming the thane of Cawdor. A messanger enters and tells Lady Macbeth that the king is coming there that night. Lady Macbeth then calls on the murderous spirits that be to fill her with poison and make her able to do whatever is necissary to guarantee Macbeth's seat as king. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth of how his letter made her feel. Duncan thanks Lady Macbeth for her hospitality and welcome and Lady Macbeth welcomes him in. Duncan asks after Macbeth saying that they were following him, but that he rides fast.

Lady macbeth then leads them into the castle. As Lady Macbeth enters, Macbeth tells her that he "will proceed no further in this business" But Lady Macbeth taunts him for his fears and ambivalence, telling him he will only be a man when he carries out the murder. She states that she herself would go so far as to take her own nursing baby and dash its brains if necessary. She counsels him to "screw [his] courage to the sticking place" and details the way they will murder the king They will wait until he falls asleep, she says, and thereafter intoxicate his bodyguards with drink.

This will allow them to murder Duncan and lay the blame on the two drunken bodyguards. Macbeth is astonished by her cruelty but resigns to follow through with her plans.


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Just as the Porter in Act 2 extemporizes about the sin of equivocation, the play figures equivocation as one of its most important themes. Starting from the Weird Sisters' first words that open the play, audiences quickly ascertain that things are not what they seem. According to the Oxford English Dictionary , the word "equivocation" has two different meanings—both of which are applicable to this play. The first is:. This definition as simple verbal ambiguity is the one that audiences are most familiar with—and one that plays an important role in the play.

The second definition in the OED: reads:. The use of words or expressions that are susceptible of a double signification, with a view to mislead; esp. This kind of equivocation is similar to lying; it is intentionally designed to mislead and confuse. The intentional ambiguity of terms is what we see in the prophesies of the Weird Sisters. Their speech is full of paradox and confusion, starting with their first assertion that "fair is foul and foul is fair" I i The witches' prophesies are intentionally ambiguous.

The alliteration and rhymed couplets in which they speak also contributes to the effect of instability and confusion in their words. For many readers, more than one reading is required to grasp a sense of what the witches mean. It is not surprising, therefore, that these "imperfect speakers" can easily bedazzle and confuse Macbeth throughout the course of the play I iii Just as their words are confusing, it is unclear as to whether the witches merely predict or actually effect the future.

Banquo fears, for example, that the witches' words will "enkindle [Macbeth] unto the crown"—in other words, that they will awaken in Macbeth an ambition that is already latent in him I iii His fears seem well-founded: as soon as the witches mention the crown, Macbeth's thoughts turn to murder.

For Macbeth, the witches can be understood as representing the final impetus that drive him to his pre-determined end.

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  4. The prophecy is in this sense self-fulfilling. The oracular sisters are in fact connected etymologically to the Fates of Greek mythology. The word "weird" derives from the Old English word "wyrd," meaning "fate.

    William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth': Act 1 Scene 3 Analysis

    For unlike Macbeth, Banquo does not act on the witches' prediction that he will father kings—and yet the witches' prophesy still comes true. The role of the weird sisters in the story, therefore, is difficult to define or determine.

    Macbeth act 2 summary quizlet

    Are they agents of fate or a motivating force? And why do they suddenly disappear from the play in the third act? The ambiguity of the Weird Sisters reflects a greater theme of doubling, mirrors, and schism between inner and outer worlds that permeates the work as a whole. Throughout the play, characters, scenes, and ideas are doubled.

    As Duncan muses about the treachery of the Thane of Cawdor at the beginning of the play, for example, Macbeth enters the scene:.

    Act 1, Scene 6 Summary

    He was a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust. I iv Similarly, the captain in Scene 2 makes a battle report that becomes in effect a prophecy:. For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name! I i As in all Shakespearean plays, mirroring among characters serves to heighten their differences.

    Lady Macbeth, who casts off her femininity and claims to feel no qualms about killing her own children, is doubled in Lady Macduff, who is a model of a good mother and wife. Banquo's failure to act on the witches' prophesy is mirrored in Macbeth's drive to realize all that the witches foresee. Similarly, much of the play is also concerned with the relation between contrasting inner and outer worlds. Beginning with the equivocal prophecies of the Weird Sisters, appearances seldom align with reality. Macbeth appears to be a loyal Thane, but secretly plans revenge.

    Lady Macbeth appears to be a gentle woman but vows to be "unsexed" and swears on committing bloody deeds. Macbeth is also a play about the inner world of human psychology, as will be illustrated in later acts through nightmares and guilt-ridden hallucinations. Such contrast between "being" and "seeming" serves as another illustration of equivocation. One of the most ambiguous aspects of the play is the character of Macbeth himself. When he swears to commit suicide, he must overcome an enormous resistance from his conscience. At the same time, he sees as his own biggest flaw not a lack of moral values but rather a lack of motivation to carry out his diabolical schemes.

    In this he resembles Hamlet, who soliloquizes numerous times about his inaction. But unlike Hamlet, Macbeth does not have a good reason to kill, nor is the man he kills evil—far from it. And finally, while Macbeth becomes increasingly devoted to murderous actions, his soliloquies are so full of eloquent speech and pathos that it is not difficult to sympathize with him. Thus at the heart of the play lies a tangle of uncertainty. If Macbeth is indecisive, Lady Macbeth is just the opposite—a character with such a single vision and drive for advancement that she brings about her own demise.

    And yet her very ruthlessness brings about another form of ambiguity, for in swearing to help Macbeth realize the Weird Sisters' prophecy, she must cast off her femininity. In a speech at the beginning of Scene 5, she calls on the spirits of the air to take away her womanhood:. Come you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood, Stop up th'access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between Th'effect and it.

    I v Lady Macbeth sees "remorse" as one of the names for feminine compassion—of which she must rid herself.

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    5. Thus she must be "unsexed.