Summary essay of Macbeth
Macbeth, originally titled ‘The tragedy of Macbeth’ is a tragic play written by the famous William Shakespeare in the year 1606. This play was supposed to be a wartime story which showcases the consequences of seeking power that isn’t yours. It also talks about various characters which are structured realistically. The psychological aspects of different people in different situations are also highlighted.
Owing to its high-end publicity, it is considered adapted or inspired by the execution of a famous Gunpowder plot involving Henry Garnet that occurred in 1605, just before Shakespeare came up with his play. Due to this similarity, many folks circulated this play to be cursed and interchangeably called it ‘The Scottish Play’. However, Macbeth garnered huge fame and was also adapted into numerous stage plays, novels, operas, comics and TV shows.
It follows the story of a general named Macbeth who chances upon a prophecy stating he is destined to become king and then, influenced by multiple aspects, goes on to seek higher avenues. Later, he has to face the adverse consequences of the same. Honestly, William Shakespeare has weaved a beautiful piece of advice into an amazing intriguing story which keeps the readers on tenterhooks throughout the screenplay. Apart from the characters and the idea, this play takes the reader through a scenario of a civil war which is crudely showcased without any altercations. In all, the play consists of the five acts.
The first act opens up in a typically dark decorum with detailed narrations of thunder and lightning where three witches are discussing their next meeting with a general called Macbeth. In the very next scene, King Duncan of Scotland receives the news by a wounded soldier that his two general, Macbeth who is called Thane of Glamis, and Banquo have won over the war raged by forces of Ireland and Norway led by the traitor Macdonwald. Later, Macbeth is highly congratulated on his success.
The scene shifts towards Macbeth and Banquo wandering in a heath where they encounter three witches who address Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor and Thane of Glamis. They then tell them their prophecies stating that Macbeth is soon destined to become king and also inform Banquo that though he will be less in the stator to Macbeth, he will father a line of kings. After this, the witches disappear and just then, another thane namely Ross comes there and informs Macbeth that the king has titled him as Thane of Cawdor. As the first prophecy gets completed, both the men are importuned to wonder about the other more momentous one. Macbeth, secretly, becomes excited and wishes to become the king as soon as possible. In the next scene, King Duncan praises both of them and insists on them to stay in the castle for the night. He also declares his son Malcolm as his successor. Macbeth immediately sends a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, explaining to her about the witches and the king’s decision.
Later, Macbeth goes home to find his wife ready with the idea of murdering the king and taking over the throne. Though initially hesitant, he is easily brainwashed by his wife and they together decide to go ahead with the plan. They devise a plan to get the king’s soldiers drunk for the night, kill the king and put the blame on the soldiers.
The act two of the novel begins with Macbeth stabbing the king with few hallucinations of a bloody dagger. Lady Macbeth helps her husband to finish the deed, cover up the crime and then blame the soldiers. Next morning, they act very normally till Macduff discovers the king’s dead body and then murder those soldiers so they do not get a chance to explain. King Duncan’s sons get shaken up and frightened due to the incident. They flee the country so as to escape their father’s murderer. Macbeth finally claims the throne to himself as the new king of Scotland. On the other hand, Banquo, though still working for the king, ponders over the prophecy and wishes to find out if his part of it would be true or not.
Act three opens up with an uneasy Macbeth wondering about the last part of the prophecy which included Banquo. He then calls Banquo and his son, Fleance, to dinner that night and finds out that they would be leaving. He fears that Banquo would confirm his suspicions and his crime would be revealed. Later, he sends three assassins to murder them who succeed in killing Banquo but Fleance escapes. This angers Macbeth. In the next scene, Macbeth invites his lords along with his wife to a night of drinking and celebration. There he encounters Banquo’s ghost who is only visible to Macbeth. As Macbeth behaves crazily on seeing the ghost, lady Macbeth tries handling the situation to her best. However, the ghost appears once again causing Macbeth to turn riotous and his wife asks everyone to leave.
Act four begins with a disturbed and frightened Macbeth visiting the three witches to know the complete the truth of the prophecies. They, in turn, summon horrendous apparitions. They again make prophecies to help Macbeth. The first prophecy says that he should be aware of Macduff. The second one tells him that no one born out of the woman will be able to harm him. The third one strangely claims that nothing will happen to Macbeth unless the Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Macbeth feels elated because all three prophecies assure him of his safety but he again asks the witches about their previous prophecy about Banquo. In an answer, the witches conjure up an image of eight kings all similar to Banquo. Macbeth learns that these might be Banquo’s descendants in other countries. In the next scene, on being informed of Macduff’s flee to England, Macbeth orders his castle to be seized and his family to be put to death.
Act four showcases Lady Macbeth feeling exceptionally guilty over her crimes and her maids and doctors shockingly witness her descent into madness as she tries to wash invisible bloodstains from her hands whispering strange and horrible things she and her husband committed. In England, Macduff learns about the gruesome murder of his wife and children and is grief-stricken. He then solemnly vows revenge. Prince Malcolm succeeds in raising an Army which is joined by Macduff and they together ride to Scotland. The invasion is also supported by the Scottish nobles who are averted by Macbeth’s strange and unjust behaviour. The Earl of Northumberland also joins the invasion against Macbeth.
The army camps in Birnam Wood and the soldiers are asked to cut the trees and carry them in their hands so as to camouflage their numbers and trick the enemy. Just before Macbeth realizes this invasion, he is informed of Lady Macbeth’s suicide causing him to delve into a deep pessimistic depression. He also delivers his most famous soliloquy which is a reflection of his deeds. He nevertheless decides to give his last fight everything he has when he learns the advancement of his army. But he again fears as he comes to know about the trees in Birnam Wood which he considers as the fulfillment of the prophecy.
In the next, the battle begins with a typical confrontation of Macduff and Macbeth who valiantly kills the Earl of Northumberland. Then Macbeth boasts that the cannot be killed by any man born out of a woman to which Macduff responds saying he was taken out untimely from his mother’s womb thus fulling the second prophecy. This is exactly when Macbeth realizes that he is doomed but he continues to fight the battle until Macduff beheads him thus killing him. Hence, the last prophecy is also fulfilled.
In the next scene, Malcolm discusses how order has been restored in Scotland and also refers to how Lady Macbeth killed herself due to the guilt which burdened her life. Finally, Malcolm has crowned the king.
The play beautifully describes the lust for power and the pain through which the characters go through. It also easily crafts out the perfect moral in an exemplary way.