Macbeth: Plot Summary

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Act 1, Scene 1 

Amidst thunder and lightening, three witches meet to plan their encounter with Macbeth, a Scottish general and the Thane of Glamis. They agree to gather again at twilight upon a heath that Macbeth will cross on his way home from battle.

Act 1, Scene 2
King Duncan of the Scots awaits news of the battle between his men and the rebels led by the Thane of Cawdor. The King and his sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, meet a soldier who is weak and bleeding. He reports that Macbeth and Banquo have performed valiantly in the fight. His admiration of the noble yet brutal Macbeth is deep indeed:

For brave Macbeth–well he deserves that name–
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour’s minion carved out his passage…
Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix’d his head upon our battlements. (1.2.15-20)

King Duncan is delighted at his captains’ bravery, and, when Angus and Ross arrive to tell him that the Thane of Cawdor has surrendered, Duncan gladly hands over the Thane’s title and all his land to Macbeth.

Act 1, Scene 3
The Witches meet on the dark and lonely heath to await Macbeth. To pass the time they exchange boasts about their evil deeds. Macbeth and Banquo come across the Weird Sisters and we see immediately that Macbeth has a strange connection to the Witches, mimicking their famous words spoken earlier in the drama: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”(1.3.38) . The Witches address Macbeth as Glamis, Cawdor, and King of the Scots. Macbeth is startled by what he sees clearly as a prophecy that he will be Scotland’s next ruler. He is too stunned to speak and thus Banquo asks the Witches if there is any more to their premonition. They do have something to add, not about Macbeth, but about Banquo. They talk in riddles, telling him he will be “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater” and “Not so happy, yet much happier” (1.3.65-6). They also tell Banquo that even though he will never himself be king, he will beget future kings of Scotland. Then the Witches disappear into the darkness, despite the pleadings of Macbeth, whose shock has turned to the lust for more information. Once alone, Macbeth and Banquo pretend not to believe anything the Weird Sisters have said, but in secret they cannot help thinking that there is a little truth to the Hags’ words. Ross and Angus arrive and inform Macbeth that Duncan has appointed him Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth and Banquo are stunned by the turn of events, realizing that the Witches are right about one facet of the prophecy, and Macbeth cannot help but focus on their other, greater prediction that he will be king. 

Act 1, Scene 4
Macbeth and Banquo reach King Duncan’s castle and Duncan praises Macbeth for his loyalty and valor. He also embraces Banquo and thanks him for his courage during the rebellion. He announces that he has decided to visit Macbeth’s castle at Iverness, and that he has chosen his son, Malcolm, to be the Prince of Cumberland and, therefore, the next king of Scotland. Macbeth proposes that he leave early for his castle to make sure everything is perfect for the King’s arrival, and Duncan happily approves. But Macbeth is really only concerned with the King’s choice of successor. With ambitious thoughts racing through his mind, Macbeth again finds himself lusting after the crown: “Stars, hide your fires/Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1.4.50-1).

Act 1, Scene 5
Scene V opens in a room in Macbeth’s castle at Iverness. Lady Macbeth is reading a letter sent by her husband, reporting all of the strange events he has witnessed. She learns of the prophecy of the Witches and that one prediction has already come true. Lady Macbeth is ecstatic and she fixes her mind on obtaining the throne for Macbeth by any means necessary. But Lady Macbeth knows that her husband has a weakness that will prevent him from taking the steps required to Macbeth's Castle. From Knight's biography of Shakespeare, 1865secure the crown. She is sure that because Macbeth is an ambitious man, he has entertained the thought of killing Duncan, no doubt several times. But she fears that he is without the wickedness that should attend those murderous thoughts. Although the unusually vicious slaying of his enemies on the battlefield have us questioning his propensity for evil, Lady Macbeth feels that he is simply “too full o’ the milk of human kindness” to kill King Duncan. She, however, thinks herself not as compassionate as her husband, and when a messenger arrives with word that Duncan plans to visit Inverness, she is overjoyed that the opportunity to murder the King has presented itself so soon. She summons all the evil spirits to ensure that no pleadings of any man will come between her and her monstrous deed:

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! (1.5.40-4)

Macbeth arrives at the castle and Lady Macbeth is ready to tempt him to join her in murder. She subtly hints at her intentions: “Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under it. He that’s coming/Must be provided for…” (1.5.65-7). Macbeth dodges the matter at hand and sheepishly tells her that they will speak further on the subject. Lady Macbeth confidently assures him, “Leave all the rest to me” (1.5.74).

Act 1, Scene 6
Duncan arrives at the castle with his sons, and Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, and others in his party. Ironically, Duncan and Banquo discuss the beauty of the castle while inside it reeks of moral decay. Banquo goes so far as to say that the “temple-haunting martlet” does approve of the castle and its sweet smelling fresh air. Unbeknownst to Banquo, this is a particularly inappropriate reference to the martlet, a bird known for building its nest near holy places. Lady Macbeth is the first to greet Duncan and his court. She welcomes them gracefully to her humble abode. As is the custom of the land, she tells the King that she has prepared an account of all that she owns so that Duncan may perform an inventory of his subjects’ belongings. But Duncan does not want to discuss such matters. He again expresses his love for Macbeth and they all move behind the castle walls.

Act 1, Scene 7
Macbeth is alone in a dining room in the castle. His conscience is acting up, and he is particularly worried about the punishment he will receive in the afterlife. “If it were done, when ’tis done, then twere well/It were done quickly.” If there were no consequences to be suffered for killing Duncan, then Macbeth would not be so reluctant. But he concludes that even if heaven were not going to judge him, he cannot bring himself to kill Duncan, whom he believes is a good man and an excellent monarch. Lady Macbeth walks in on her husband and sees the indecision on his face. Macbeth tells her that he has changed his mind: “We will proceed no further in this business” (1.7.31). Lady Macbeth, who is ruthless beyond comprehension, refuses to accept Macbeth’s decision. Instead, Lady Macbeth plays upon his emotions, calling him a coward and accusing him of not loving her. Her cunning words work well on Macbeth, and she turns his mind back to thoughts of murder. However, he is still afraid and he asks her “If we should fail?” (I.vii.53). With conviction and confidence enough for both of them, Lady Macbeth responds to her husband’s doubts: “We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking place/And we’ll not fail” (1.7.54-56). Macbeth is once and for all convinced — they will proceed with the murder of the King.

Act 2, Scene 1
The night falls over the castle at Iverness. Banquo comments to his son, Fleance, that it is as black a night as he has seen. Banquo is having trouble sleeping, for the prophecy of the Witches is foremost on his mind. He hints that he too has been thinking ambitious thoughts and he begs the heavens for the will to suppress them: “Merciful powers/Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature/Gives way to in repose” (2.1.7-9). Banquo meets Macbeth in the courtyard and he tries to bring up the subject of the Witches but Macbeth refuses to discuss them or their predictions. He bluntly replies “I think not of them”, and bids Banquo goodnight. Macbeth goes to an empty room and waits for his wife to ring the bell, signaling that Duncan’s guards are in a drunken slumber. Macbeth’s mind is racing with thoughts of the evil he is about to perform and he begins to hallucinate, seeing a bloody dagger appear in the air. He soliloquizes on the wickedness in the world before concluding that talking about the murder will only make the deed that much harder to complete. Suddenly, a bell rings out. Macbeth braces himself and utters these final words:

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell. (2.1.62-4)

Act 2, Scene 2
Lady Macbeth has drugged Duncan’s guards and she waits in her chamber for Macbeth to commit the murder. She hears moans of torture coming from Duncan’s quarters and she loses some of her composure. She fears that they have awoken the guards and she confesses that she would have killed the King herself if he did not resemble her own father. Macbeth returns a murderer; his hands dripping in blood of his victims. The two whisper about the deed and Macbeth nervously recounts the cries each man made before he stabbed them. Lady Macbeth tells him to “consider it not so deeply” (2.2.30), but Macbeth can focus only on their screams and the frightening realization that, when one cried “God bless us!”, he tried to say “Amen” in response, but the word stuck in his throat. Lady Macbeth pleads with her husband to put the act out of his mind but Macbeth only thinks harder upon what he has done. He hears a voice cry “Glamis hath murther’d sleep: and therefore Cawdor/Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more!” (2.2.41-3). Lady Macbeth insists that he go wash his face and hands and place the daggers that he has so carelessly brought back with him in the hands of the guards. Macbeth refuses to return to the scene of the crime and so Lady Macbeth goes instead. Alone, Macbeth stares at his blood-soaked hands:

What hands are here? Ha! they pluck out mine eyes!
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red. (2.2.59-63)

Lady Macbeth comes back, now with hands equally bloody. They hear a knock at the castle doors and Lady Macbeth again demands that Macbeth wash up and go to bed, for they must pretend that they have been sound asleep the entire night. Macbeth’s words of regret bring the scene to a close: “To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself/Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!” (II.ii.73-6).

Act 2, Scene 3
The knocking at the south entrance grows louder and more frequent. A porter walks slowly to open the doors, pondering what it would be like to be the door-keeper of hell. Macduff and Lennox are at the doors, arriving to visit King Duncan. Macbeth comes down to greet the two noblemen. Overnight he has fully regained his composure and pretends that their early morning knocking has awakened him. Macduff proceeds to the King’s chambers while Lennox tells Macbeth about the fierce storm they encountered on their journey to Inverness. In the howling wind they heard ‘strange screams of death’ (2.3.46), and there were reports of the earth shaking. Macbeth’s response is ironic and cruelly comical: “Twas a rough night” (2.3.47). Macduff re-enters, screaming that the King has been slain. He tells Lennox that it is a horrible and bloody sight, comparing it to Medusa herself. He rings the alaurm bell while Macbeth runs to King Duncan’s quarters. Macbeth reaches the guards who have been awakened by the bell. Before they can proclaim their innocence, Macbeth kills them and reports to Macduff that he has murdered Duncan’s assassins in a fit of fury. Lady Macbeth pretends to collapse in a shock and, while the rest of the men tend to her, Malcolm whispers to his brother, Donalbain. The brothers are not as easily deceived as the others and they know their lives are in grave danger: “There’s daggers in men’s eyes” Donalbain adds, and they agree to flee Scotland. Malcolm will go to England and, to be extra cautious, Donalbain will go to Ireland.

Act 2, Scene 4
In this brief transition scene, an old man reports to Ross the strange omens that have coincided with Duncan’s murder. Macduff enters and tells Ross that, since the King’s two sons have fled Scotland, they are presumed to be the masterminds behind their father’s murder. As a result of their treachery, their claim to the throne is forfeit, and Macbeth will be named the new King of the Scots.

Act 3, Scene 1 

Act III opens at the royal castle on the day of a great feast to celebrate Macbeth’s coronation. Banquo is the first to enter the great dining hall. The prophecy of the Witches races through his mind, and he begins to believe that Macbeth himself was responsible for the fulfillment of the Hags’ prediction. He thinks upon his own destiny as foretold by the Witches. If Macbeth is now king, Banquo is sure to father future kings. A trumpet sounds and King Macbeth and his Queen enter the hall with Lennox, Ross, and a long parade of servants. Macbeth is very concerned with Banquo’s activities for the day, and asks him where he plans to go before dinner begins. Banquo tells him that he and his son, Fleance, are going to ride on the vast castle grounds in the afternoon, but he assures Macbeth he will not miss the feast. Macbeth orders everyone to take the afternoon for himself and be ‘the master of his time’ until seven that evening, when the banquet will commence. Everyone rushes off, except Macbeth and a servant. He asks the servant to bring in two men that have been waiting at the palace gate. Alone for a brief moment, Macbeth reveals his plan to have Banquo and Fleance murdered while they are out riding. Killing now comes easier to Macbeth and he will gladly slay his friend and his child if it means securing the throne for his own lineage. The servant returns with the men whom Macbeth has commissioned to kill Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth gives them some final instructions and sends them on their way. As the scene comes to a close, we see Macbeth’s transformation into a evil villain now complete: “It is concluded: Banquo, thy soul’s flight/If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.” (3.1.140-141).

Act 3, Scene 2
In another room in the castle, Lady Macbeth orders a servant to find her husband. Lady Macbeth is not as happy as she thought she would be as Queen of Scotland, and, although she hides it better than Macbeth, the murder is all that she can think about. Despite the fact that they now have exactly what they desired, Lady Macbeth confesses that they have gained nothing and lost everything by killing Duncan: ‘Nought’s had, all’s spent’ (3.2.4). Macbeth enters and he too admits to consuming feelings of guilt and fear. He laments ‘In the affliction of these terrible dreams/That shake us nightly: better be with the dead’ (3.2.18-9). Lady Macbeth wants to think of other, more pleasant things, and she tells her husband to be happy and enjoy his feast. Macbeth informs her that he has decided to kill Banquo and Fleance. She asks for details but, to save her from further guilt, Macbeth will not tell her any more: ‘Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck’ (3.2.44-6).

Act 3, Scene 3
The two murderers set out to find Banquo and Fleance, riding on the palace grounds. A third murderer joins them, sent by Macbeth to ensure the killing is carried out according to plan. They hear horses approach. It is Banquo and his son, walking toward the stables, talking about the fun of the day. Night has fallen early and they carry a lit torch. The First Murderer attacks Banquo but before he dies he cries out to Fleance to run away as fast as he can. In the scuffle the torch goes out and Fleance successfully escapes into the dark countryside. The murderers know that they have left incomplete the more important task of killing Banquo’s son, but they nonetheless head to the castle to report Banquo’s death to Macbeth.

Act 3, Scene 4
The banquet is underway in the great hall of the royal palace. Amidst the revelers, Macbeth sees the First Murderer and, as inconspicuously as possible, he walks over to speak with him. The First Murderer tells him that the blood Macbeth sees upon his face is Banquo’s and that Fleance has escaped. Macbeth is unhappy with the news that Fleance remains alive, but he focuses on the good news of Banquo’s death and decides to take his place at the dinner table. But Macbeth’s seat is already occupied. It is Banquo’s ghost, and Macbeth is horrified. Before his stunned guests he begins to speak to what they believe is an empty chair: “Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo! how say you?/Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too” (3.4.68-70). Lady Macbeth tells the guests that Macbeth is suffering from stress, and, when the ghost disappears, Macbeth regains his composure. He says that he has a “strange infirmity” and quickly calls for more wine and toasts the “general joy of the whole table”. Unfortunately, Macbeth decides to mention Banquo specifically in the toast, which prompts the re-appearance of Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth again reacts to the spirit, much to the bewilderment of his guests. Lady Macbeth, afraid her husband is losing his mind and will reveal their crimes, bids the guests an abrupt goodnight and shuffles them out of the hall. When they are alone, Lady Macbeth, who is baffled by Macbeth’s behavior, tells him that his lack of sleep is causing him to hallucinate. Macbeth insists that he must consult the three Weird Sisters to find out what dangers lie in wait. Macbeth and his Lady retire to bed and the scene ends with Macbeth’s final thought that, because he is new to such heinous crime, his conscience is overactive, but he will improve with time. As he tells Lady Macbeth: “We are yet but young in deed” (3.4.146).

Act 3, Scene 5
Thunder crashes overtop a lonely heath where the Witches are gathered. Heccate, the goddess of witchcraft, scolds the Hags for not including her in their meetings with Macbeth. Heccate tells them that they must reassure Macbeth when he comes to visit, for she knows that security “Is mortals’ chiefest enemy” (3.5.34).

Act 3, Scene 6
In a room in the palace, Lennox and another lord discuss the deaths of Duncan and Banquo. Lennox now suspects Macbeth has committed the murders and subtly reveals his thoughts in an exceptional speech, noted for its sustained irony. The lord also suspects Macbeth, and he tells Lennox that Malcolm has the support of Edward, King of England, and that Macduff has since sided with Malcolm and is gathering an army as they speak. They hope Malcolm and his troops return as soon as possible to help the Scottish rebels overthrow Macbeth.

Act 4, Scene 1
Act 4 opens in a dark cave. In the center of the cave a cauldron boils, and around it the Witches gather. They cast spells in anticipation of Macbeth’s arrival. Macbeth enters and the Witches agree to show him what the future has in store. Amidst crashes of thunder, three apparitions appear. The first is an armed head, summoned to warn Macbeth that Macduff is coming back to Scotland to ruin him. The second apparition is a bloody child and it tells Macbeth that no man born of a woman can do him harm. This gives Macbeth great confidence: “Then live Macduff: what need I fear of thee?” (4.1.78-80). The third apparition is that of a child wearing a crown and holding a tree. It tells Macbeth that: “Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until/Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill/Shall come against him” (4.1.87-90). Macbeth is secure that the third apparition’s prophecy will never be, for ‘who can impress the forest?’ or ‘bid the tree unfix his earth-bound roots?’ (4.1.91-3). Macbeth’s confidence is restored, but one question remains: what of Banquo’s prophecy? He asks the Witches if Banquo’s descendants will still rule Scotland, and in response they summon a vision of eight kings. The kings pass over the stage in order; the last holding a glass. Banquo’s ghost follows behind them, and Macbeth flies into a rage at the Witches who have revealed his worst fear. They dance and cackle and vanish into the darkness. Lennox enters the cave and Macbeth is worried that he has seen the Witches. But Lennox has seen nothing. He tells Macbeth that there are horsemen outside, come to report that Macduff has sided with Malcolm who is gathering an army of English soldiers. Macbeth decides that he must kill Macduff and his whole family as punishment for his betrayal.

Act 4, Scene 2
The scene turns to Macduff’s castle where Lady Macduff is livid because her husband has left her and their son to go to England. Ross tells her to remain calm, reminding her that Macduff is wise and noble, and would not leave lest it was of utmost importance. Ross leaves and, in her anger, Lady Macduff tells her son that Macduff is dead. But her son is sharp like his father and he challenges her, prompting humorous banter between the two. A knock at the door interrupts their conversation. It is a messenger who has somehow learned of Macbeth’s plan to have Lady Macduff and her son murdered. He begs her to flee at once and he runs from the castle in terror. Lady Macduff, sure she has done nothing wrong, hesitates to leave. This delay is costly indeed, for the murderers arrive and burst through the heavy wooden doors. They tell her that her husband is a traitor and one of the murderers grabs her son and stabs him, killing him instantly. Lady Macduff runs screaming from the castle, but the murderers chase her down and slay her.

Act 4, Scene 3
Macduff has arrived at King Edward’s palace in England. Malcolm, however, is distrusting of Macbeth because he feels that Macbeth, who was himself once noble and trustworthy, has corrupted everyone around him. Malcolm tests Macduff’s loyalty to him and Scotland by pretending to be a greedy and base prince who will ‘cut off the noble’s from their land’ when he gains the Scottish crown. When Macduff morns openly for his country that has one evil ruler and another in wait, Malcolm confesses that his words were only to test Macduff’s commitment to him and Scotland. Ross comes from Scotland with the horrible news that Macbeth has murdered Macduff’s family. Macduff, utterly destroyed by the foulness of the deed, cannot believe it, and must ask repeatedly if his wife and child are really dead. Malcolm implores Macduff to turn his anguish into anger: “be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief/Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it” (4.3.211-13). Macduff vows revenge and they leave to gather their troops and head for Scotland.

Act 5, Scene 1
With Macbeth busy assembling his men to fight Malcolm, Lady Macbeth is left alone in the castle at Dunsinane. When the two were together they could feed off each other’s strength and prevent one another from dwelling on their crimes. But Macbeth is gone and Lady Macbeth is left to brood over the atrocities Macbeth has committed at her command. Her guilt and fear follow her even in dreams, and she begins to walk in her sleep. Her Gentlewoman has seen her several times rise from her bed. The Gentlewoman calls for a doctor who watches for two nights but does not see Lady Macbeth come out of her chamber. But, on the third night, he observes Lady Macbeth walk down the hall with a lantern, rubbing her hands violently. She reveals the events of that gruesome night and utters one of the most famous line in all of literature: “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” (5.1.37). The murder of Macduff’s family and Banquo also weigh heavy on her mind: “The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” (5.1.44-5). The Doctor is horrified to know the truth and he refuses to report to anyone what he has just seen and heard for fear that his own life will be in jeopardy. He leaves the castle, knowing that no doctor can cure what ails Lady Macbeth: “More needs she the divine than the physician” (5.1.77).

Act 5, Scene 2
The action moves to the countryside near Dunsaine where the rebels, led by Lennox and Angus, await the English army that will soon arrive. They make plans to meet at Birnam Wood and Cathiness, one of the soldiers, tells the others that Macbeth is hold up in the royal castle preparing for the attack.

Act 5, Scene 3
Macbeth is in his war room awaiting Malcolm and his troops. Because of the three apparitions, Macbeth is confident that he will be victorious, and he refuses to hear the reports from his generals. The Doctor comes in and Macbeth asks anxiously about his wife. The Doctor tells him that she seems troubled and cannot rest. Macbeth orders the Doctor to cure her: “Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased/Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow?” (5.3.40-1). Quite courageously, the Doctor replies, “Therein the patient/Must minister to himself” (5.3.45-6). Macbeth rejects his useless answer and angrily calls for his armour. Although we can see Macbeth starting to crumble under the mounting pressure, he convinces himself that he is still not afraid of defeat “Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane” (5.3.59-60).

Act 5, Scene 4
Malcolm orders his men to each cut a branch from a tree from Birnam forest to provide camouflage as they attack the castle. Malcolm’s command to carry the boughs signals the true end of Macbeth, for Birnam Wood is moving toward Dunsinane.

Act 5, Scene 5
On the castle walls Macbeth waits, sure that Macduff and Malcolm will die of famine before they can penetrate his defense. Suddenly a cry is heard from within the castle. Seyton goes to investigate and, when he returns, he tells Macbeth that his wife is dead. With the news that he has lost his precious lady, Macbeth resigns himself to the futility of life. A messenger enters and reports that he has seen an amazing sight — the woods are moving toward the castle. Macbeth is at first unbelieving and slaps the messenger, calling him a ‘liar and slave!’. But Macbeth cannot deceive himself any longer and he vows that, if he must die, he will die a valiant soldier in battle:

If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I’gin to be a-weary of the sun,
And wish the estate o’ the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum bell! Blow wind! come wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.

Act 5, Scene 6
In this very short scene we see Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff gathered with their troops on the plain before Macbeth’s castle. They throw down their ‘leafy screens’, sound the trumpets, and wage their assault on the royal palace.

Act 5, Scene 7
Macbeth has left the castle to fight Malcolm’s army on the battlefield. Although he has resigned himself to defeat, he remembers the second apparition. Still convinced that he will never meet a man not born from a woman, he regains the hope that it is yet possible for him to escape. He meets young Siward who calls him a liar and challenges him to fight. Macbeth gladly obliges and, with his skill as a great warrior, easily kills the young man. But the noise of the fight attracts Macduff and he runs to confront Macbeth.

Act 5, Scene 8
Macbeth, with his newfound hope and determination, continues to fight Malcolm’s army. Macduff comes up behind him, demanding that the “hell hound turn” (5.8.3) and fight. Macbeth tells him to leave, for he does not want the blood of another Macduff on his hands. Macduff refuses and charges at Macbeth. They fight, and Macbeth boasts that he is indestructible: “I bear a charmed life, which must not yield/To one of woman born” (5.8.1203). Macduff reveals that he was not of woman born, but ‘untimely ripped’ from his mother’s womb. Macbeth realizes that the Witches, in their evil trickery, have only helped in his destruction, and he resigns himself to death. Not far away, the victorious Malcolm rallies his soldiers. Macduff joins them, carrying the head of Macbeth. He hails the new King Malcolm and the King’s promise of restoration brings the play to a close:

We shall not spend a large expense of time
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What’s more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone. (5.8.60-75)