Macbeth, (in full; The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy play by William Shakespeare that was first performed early in the seventeenth century. The tragedy articulately dramatizes the destructive psychological and physical impact of those who seek political power for selfish gains. In this Macbeth summary, we will dive into the tragedy to help you understand three things: “What is Macbeth about, who kills Macbeth, and who becomes king at the end of Macbeth?”
Macbeth Plot in A Few Lines
The play is set in medieval Scotland and is partly anchored on a true account. The play opens when three witches prophesy and inform Macbeth (an already decorated soldier in King Duncan’s army), that he is going to become the King of Scotland. Driven by ambition, and spurred to action by his self-seeking wife, Macbeth goes ahead to kill the king and becomes the new king. The play closes in a climax when Macbeth’s wife dies, civil war erupts, and Macbeth is killed by Macduff.
The Complete Synopsis of Macbeth
Prophesy about Macbeth becoming King Sparks Confusion
The storyline of Macbeth commences when three witches inform Macbeth, a successful soldier, he is going to become king. They went further and predicted that even after Macbeth becoming a king; latter Scottish kings would hail from his colleague in the army, Banquo.
When Macbeth is named the Thane of Cawdor because of his recent successes in the battle, he believes the prophecy of him becoming king was finally taking shape. However, he is thrown into confusion when King Duncan picks his son (Malcolm) to be his heir.
Driven by Self-Ambition, Macbeth Kills the King and Becomes King
When Lady Macbeth hears of the witches’ prophesy, she vows to help her husband ascend to power by any means possible. She successfully persuades Macbeth to use regicide to achieve prophesy from the witches.
Lady Macbeth drugs King Duncan’s soldiers, while Macbeth kills King Duncan. When Macduff, a loyalist of King Duncan, finds the dead body of the king, Macbeth kills the drugged guards to destroy evidence.
Duncan’s sons, Donalbain and Malcolm flee for their lives as Macbeth is proclaimed King of Scotland. Donalbain goes to Ireland and Malcolm to England, where they start preparing to retake the kingdom.
King Macbeth Rules through Paranoia, Recalls Prophesy
To try and keep the kingdom in his lineage, Macbeth recalls the prophesy that indicated future kings would come from Banquo. He organizes Banquo and his son, Fleance, to be killed. But the hired killers only kill Banquo but mistakenly allow Fleance to escape.
In one of the banquets, Banquo ghost appears in the dining table prompting Macbeth to seek further prophesy from the witches who foretold his kingship. This time, they reaffirmed the earlier prophecy and added a new one:
The sons of Banquo would rule Scotland.
Macbeth would be invincible in battles until a time when he would meet an enemy not born of a woman.
But Macbeth dismisses these arguments and embarks on a reign of terror killing those he thought were opposed to him. Among the people killed by Macbeth was Macduff’s family. By this time, Macduff had left for England to help Malcolm to lead an army against Macbeth.
Macbeth is Slain by Macduff as Malcolm is Crowned King
In the final scenes of Macbeth Shakespeare, you will get the answer to the question: “Who killed Macbeth?” Upon reaching England and meeting Malcolm, Macduff is informed that his wife and children have been killed by Macbeth. This emboldens him to help Malcolm take revenge against the King of Scotland.
Back in Scotland, Macbeth’s end is drawing nearer. His wife is taken ill and is recalling memories of murders by his husband. She tells her secrets to a doctor and commits suicide.
At this point, the play shifts to the last moments of Macbeth. Malcolm’s army is moving in camouflaged in sawn-off branches that make Macbeth think it is wood. The army is led by Macduff. When Macduff finally meets Macbeth (his sworn enemy), he tells him that he was born through CS and, therefore, was not born of a woman. Macbeth rejects prophesy again and tries to attack Macduff. But he is slain.
Malcolm is crowned the new King of Scotland!
Learn How to Write Winning Summary with Macbeth Synopsis
Do you have a task to craft a summary of a play, publication, or book? You can use this summary of Macbeth to learn how to write it. If you take a closer look, you will realize that the Macbeth synopsis starts with a summary of the entire play in just a few lines. Simply read your entire play, and summarize what is it that the writer is saying using a few sentences.
The next step is breaking the play into key sections and picking the main points. Note that even when writing a summary, like in the case of Macbeth’s short summary; it is important to make the write-up as clear as possible. Your reader needs to understand all the details.
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