Macbeth minimized

James I from Scotland became England’s king in 1603. His mother was Mary, Queen of Scots, a cousin of Elizabeth I, England’s recently deceased monarch and a Shakespeare benefactor.  Mary, Queen of Scots had been executed in 1587.  James I was England’s first king born in Scotland; the play first performed in his honor.

1. Three mysterious witches tell Macbeth “that thou shall be king.” They tell Banquo that “thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.”  Macbeth and Banquo are military heroes.  Macbeth receives a promotion, now in line to be king. The current king, Duncan, appoints his son, Malcolm, as first in line to succeed him.  King Duncan visits the Macbeths at their castle at Inverness. Led by Lady Macbeth, the Macbeths decide to assassinate Duncan, ambitious as she is for her husband.  Lady Macbeth supplies the guards with wine; they soon falling asleep.

2.  Macbeth works his way to Duncan’s chambers.  He fatally stabs the king.  He returns to his wife with the bloody daggers, saying “I’ll go no more.”  Lady Macbeth takes the daggers and kills the guards, leaving the daggers on their pillows. Macduff arrives at dawn to awaken the king. Finding the king murdered, he awakens everybody.  Fear and commotion overtake the castle.  Malcolm and his brother Donalbain, fearing for their lives, quickly leave the premises.  Malcolm leaves for England. With Malcolm nowhere to be found, Macduff announces that Macbeth will be crowned king.  Macduff leaves for his castle at Fife. 

3. Consumed with fear, Macbeth has Banquo murdered. The Macbeths throw a dinner party.  When Macbeth goes to the door, the ghost of Banquo takes a seat at the banquet table. On his return, Macbeth shouts at the ghost, seen only by him, to “quit my sight.  Let the earth hide thee.”  The lords are alarmed. The banquet ends.  Lady Macbeth tells them that the king needs sleep.  In the morning Macbeth visits the witches.  They tell him he has nothing to fear from “any man of woman born” or until “Birnam Wood goes to Dunsinane.”  Macbeth is comforted.  Macduff leaves Scotland for England.

4. Murderers hired by Macbeth murder Macduff’s family at Fife. Macduff meets with Malcolm, unaware of the murder of his family. He passes Malcolm’s loyalty test. The two of them along with Siward and English troops begin their plan to overthrow Macbeth.  Macduff learns of the slaughter at Fife.  Malcolm asks him to “dispute it like a man.” He responds “I shall do so, but I must also feel it as a man.”  They leave for Scotland.

5. The Macbeths are at their castle at Dunsinane.  Lady Macbeth is totally depressed, walking and talking in her sleep.  Macduff, Malcolm and Siward have gathered outside the castle in Birnam Wood. Lady Macbeth dies. Using tree branches as shields, Macduff’s forces attack the castle.  Macbeth learns that Macduff’s mother died just before he was born. Macduff slays Macbeth. Macduff proclaims Malcolm to be Scotland’s king.