The play begins with three witches addressing in a prophetic manner. They discuss where to meet Macbeth with puzzling hints of the kind of time which is yet to come.
A wounded sergeant who saved King Duncan’s son Malcolm from captivity reports of Macbeth and Banquo’s glorious bravery on the battlefield and how Macdonald, the traitor got killed by Macbeth.
The Thane of Ross enters to inform King Duncan regarding the Thane of Cawdor supporting Norwegian army. The king sentences the Thane of Cawdor to imminent death and awards Macbeth with the same title because he led the Scottish army towards victory.
The three witches gather again at heath and brag of their recent achievements. The second one has been killing swine while the first one talks about a sailor’s wife who didn’t share chestnuts. The first one shows a pilot’s thumb who was returning shipwrecked.
After a drum beats, together they sing and declare the arrival of Macbeth who is with Banquo. Banquo notices those three witches and unable to identify them adequately asks them. The first witch hails Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis, the second one hails him as the Thane of Cawdor while the third one predicts of him as the king.
Banquo expresses his clear conscience and they hail him paradoxically as lesser and greater than Macbeth simultaneously. It confuses both of them greatly and they discuss it with bewilderment.
Ross with Angus enters the scene and declares that he has been made the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth starts musing over those prophecies and their possible scopes inwardly while Banquo warns him of such agents of darkness. Together they leave for the king,
In the palace, the King inquires about the execution of Cawdor and Malcolm confirms. Macbeth enters with Banquo, Ross and Angus. King Duncan expresses his gratitude and meanwhile declares Malcolm as heir to the throne.
Macbeth takes leave for home to inform his wife regarding the king’s arrival and on his way ponders upon the fact that it is Malcolm who stands between him and the throne.
In Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth receives a letter in which Macbeth has described his encounter with the three witches. It greatly thrills Lady Macbeth and she doubts her husband’s vulnerability to kindness.
She wishes to prepare his spirit with her heroic words and guide him to the crown. The message that the king and Macbeth are to arrive at Macbeth’s castle makes her restless. She deeply wishes against her gender prescribed role. Then with Macbeth, she plans to not letting King Duncan leave the castle alive.
The king along with others arrive at the castle and is sincerely impressed by its environment. Banquo too expresses his impressions regarding the pleasantness of the castle. Lady Macbeth receives them and expresses their gratitude for how much they owe all that to him.
Inside the castle, the feast for that evening is being set. Macbeth is in dilemma regarding the impending assassination of the king. His conscience is being haunted and at one point he gives up the idea too until Lady Macbeth enters and ignites his loose ambition.
Macbeth recollects himself and together they plan to murder Duncan while he is sleeping and smear the blood upon his intoxicated guards to accuse them of it.