Macbeth by William Shakespeare- Summary, Analysis, Characters, Themes & Question Answers

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About the Play: Macbeth

AuthorWilliam Shakespeare
SettingScotland, 11th century
Main CharactersMacbeth, Lady Macbeth, Banquo, Macduff, Malcolm
Central ConflictMacbeth’s ambition and descent into darkness
Major ThemesAmbition, power, guilt, fate, good vs. evil
Key EventsThe witches’ prophecy, Macbeth’s murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness, Macduff’s revenge
SymbolismBlood, darkness, storms, mirrors
Literary DevicesSoliloquy, aside, imagery, metaphor, allusion

Analysis: Macbeth

Macbeth” is a play by William Shakespeare that tells the tragic story of a Scottish general named Macbeth. Ambition and the influence of supernatural forces drive Macbeth to commit heinous acts, including murdering King Duncan to become king himself. As Macbeth descends into madness and tyranny, his actions lead to a chain of tragic events.

Characters: Macbeth

The characters of “Macbeth” William Shakespeare by are:

  1. Macbeth: A brave and loyal Scottish general who becomes consumed by ambition and greed, leading him to commit heinous acts to secure and maintain power.
  2. Lady Macbeth: Macbeth’s ambitious and manipulative wife who urges him to pursue the throne and is plagued by guilt as the consequences of their actions unfold.
  3. Duncan: The benevolent and trusting King of Scotland, whose murder sets off a chain of tragic events.
  4. Banquo: Macbeth’s loyal friend and fellow general, whose ghost haunts Macbeth after being betrayed and murdered.
  5. Macduff: A nobleman who opposes Macbeth and ultimately plays a crucial role in his downfall.
  6. Three Witches: Supernatural beings who prophesy Macbeth’s rise to power, leading him down a destructive path.
  7. Malcolm: Duncan’s son, who flees to England after his father’s murder and later returns to challenge Macbeth’s rule.
  8. Hecate: The goddess of witchcraft, who is displeased with the witches’ involvement with Macbeth.
  9. Lennox and Ross: Scottish noblemen who witness and comment on the unfolding events.
  10. Fleance: Banquo’s son, who escapes the murderers sent by Macbeth and represents a threat to Macbeth’s throne.

Themes: Macbeth

The themes of “Macbeth” William Shakespeare by are:

  1. Ambition: The destructive consequences of unchecked ambition are explored as Macbeth’s desire for power leads to tragic consequences.
  2. Guilt and Conscience: The play delves into the psychological torment faced by characters like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as they grapple with the consequences of their immoral actions.
  3. Betrayal: Loyalty is tested as characters betray one another for personal gain, highlighting the theme of political and personal betrayal.
  4. Fate vs. Free Will: The interplay between destiny and individual choices is a central theme, questioning whether characters are in control of their actions or guided by fate.
  5. Appearance vs. Reality: Characters often wear deceptive masks, exploring the theme of things not being as they seem and the danger of making judgments based on appearances.
  6. Political Ambiguity: The play reflects on the instability and chaos that can arise in a political landscape, especially when leadership is obtained through immoral means.
  7. Supernatural Elements: The influence of supernatural forces, particularly witches, adds an eerie dimension to the play and raises questions about the role of the supernatural in human affairs.

Video Summary of “Macbeth”

Macbeth Summary 

Act 1:

A stormy heath is the setting for the first act of Macbeth, where three witches, known as the Weird Sisters, meet to create mischief. They chant their incantations and predict that Macbeth, a valiant Scottish general, will soon be crowned Thane of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland. Their prophecy is interrupted by the arrival of Banquo, Macbeth’s comrade, who also receives a prediction from the witches: his descendants will rule Scotland.

Meanwhile, King Duncan, the current ruler of Scotland, arrives at Glamis Castle, where he is to be hosted by Macbeth and his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, upon hearing the witches’ prophecy, becomes consumed by the desire for power and persuades her husband to assassinate Duncan, paving the way for Macbeth’s ascension to the throne.

Act 2:

Duncan’s arrival at Glamis Castle marks the beginning of Act 2. Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband’s insecurities and ambition, convincing him that killing Duncan is the only way to secure their future. As Duncan sleeps, Macbeth, driven by Lady Macbeth’s relentless urging, enters the king’s chamber and commits the murder.

The aftermath of Duncan’s murder is filled with guilt and chaos. Lady Macbeth, initially resolute, becomes plagued by nightmares and bloodstains she cannot remove from her hands. Macbeth, haunted by his actions, descends into a state of paranoia and fear.

Act 3:

In Act 3, Macbeth’s reign of terror begins. Fearful that Banquo’s descendants will fulfill the witches’ prophecy and claim the throne, Macbeth arranges for Banquo’s assassination. However, Banquo’s ghost appears to Macbeth during a royal feast, tormenting him with his presence.

Macbeth’s paranoia intensifies, leading him to consult the Weird Sisters once again. They reveal a series of cryptic prophecies, warning him of Macduff, a Scottish nobleman who has fled to England, and assuring him that he will remain safe until Birnam Wood moves against him.

Act 4:

Act 4 opens with Macbeth’s further descent into tyranny. He orders the massacre of Macduff’s family, driving Macduff to join forces with Malcolm, Duncan’s eldest son, to overthrow Macbeth.

Malcolm tests the loyalty of the Scottish nobles before leading an army against Macbeth. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth, consumed by guilt and despair, commits suicide.

Act 5:

The final act of Macbeth unfolds amidst the clash of armies. Macbeth, emboldened by the witches’ prophecies, initially believes himself invincible. However, when he learns that Birnam Wood has been cut down and its branches carried by the soldiers, he realizes the witches’ words have been twisted and his fate is sealed.

In a climactic duel, Macbeth confronts Macduff, who reveals that he was not born naturally but rather “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.” This revelation shatters the witches’ prophecy’s protection, and Macbeth is slain.

With Macbeth’s defeat, Malcolm is restored to the throne, and order is restored to Scotland. The play concludes with a somber reflection on the destructive power of ambition and the tragic consequences of unchecked desire.


What is the story of Macbeth about?

A brave general, consumed by ambition and spurred by his ruthless wife, murders his king and seizes the throne, only to descend into madness and tyranny.

What is the main point of Macbeth?

The play Macbeth explores the corrupting influence of ambition and the tragic consequences that arise when individuals succumb to the allure of power.

What are the 3 things the witches say to Macbeth?

The witches tell Macbeth that:
1. He will become the Thane of Cawdor.
2. He will become king.
3. He should fear Macduff.

Who finally kills Macbeth and why?

Macbeth is killed by Macduff because Macbeth harmed Macduff’s family, and Macduff seeks revenge for their deaths.

What is Macbeth killed by?

Macbeth is killed by Macduff with a sword in a duel.

How was King Duncan killed?

King Duncan was killed by Macbeth, who stabbed him while he was asleep in his chamber.

What happens to Lady Macbeth before she dies?

Lady Macbeth experiences guilt and madness before dying by suicide. She is overwhelmed by the consequences of her and Macbeth’s actions.

Who kills Banquo?

Banquo is killed by hired murderers on the orders of Macbeth to eliminate a threat to his throne.

Who is the main villain in Macbeth?

Macbeth is the main villain in the play because he becomes power-hungry and commits terrible deeds, leading to tragic consequences.

What did Macduff say when he killed Macbeth?

When Macduff kills Macbeth, he declares, “Thou traitor, surrender!”

Who became king of Scotland after Macbeth?

After Macbeth, Malcolm became the king of Scotland.

What is the ending of play?

Macbeth is defeated in a battle, and Malcolm becomes the new king, bringing an end to the tyrannical rule of Macbeth. Order is restored to Scotland.

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