Macbeth by William Shakespeare Short Summary

Thane of Cawdor & Macdonald, have risen against King Duncan. They are backed by the King of Norway. Thus King Duncan sends two of his most trustworthy generals; Macbeth & Banquo to fight against them.

They defeat both the traitors & return back from the war. They find three witches on their way. Both Macbeth & Banquo are stunned to see the weird creatures.

When they try to talk to witches, the first witch greets Macbeth as “Thane of Glamis”, the second witch greets him as “Thane of Cawdor” & the third witch greets him as “the king of Scotland”.

He wonders that they are just joking as Thane of Cawdor is still living, He doesn’t take them seriously. Banquo too asks them what they think of him. The first witch says that he will not be so happy yet happier than Macbeth.

The second Witch says that he will not be so great yet greater than Macbeth. The third Witch says that he will not be the king but father of kings. Saying this, they disappear.

Meanwhile, a wounded soldier, who was also fighting against the traitors, appears before the king and tells him about the grand victory of Macbeth. King is much pleased with Macbeth, so he sends Ross to congratulate Macbeth & honour him with the title of Thane of Cawdor.

King also orders the execution of Thane of Cawdor. While Macbeth and Banquo are thinking about the weird creatures, Ross appears. He greets Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is surprised.

He asks how he can be the Thane of Cawdor as Thane of Cawdor is still alive. Ross tells him that the Thane of Cawdor has committed a blunder & will be executed.

While Banquo is still not much serious about what the witches predicted, Macbeth becomes concerned. However, he doesn’t tell it to Banquo. He sends a message to Lady Macbeth (his wife), telling her about the incidence.

He along with Banquo goes to the king & invites him to his castle to celebrate the success. When he reaches home, his wife calls him to be “too full of the milk of human kindness” & compels him to kill the king or otherwise, he will not become the king. He agrees with his wife.

King along with other nobles reach the castle of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth hides her real intentions & warmly welcomes the king. After King has gone to sleep, she makes the king’s two grooms drunk.

Macbeth then murders the king. After committing the murder of the king, he becomes depressed and his repentance can be seen through his conversation with her wife. He cannot kill the two grooms, so Lady Macbeth herself kills both of them.

Suddenly, there is a knock at the gate. She advises her husband to put on his nightdress. The gate-keeper, who is drunk, considers himself to be the gate-keeper of Hell & says that he is tired of the job.

The knock continues and he, at last, opens the gate. Macduff has come to wake the king up as per his order. He goes inside & finds the king in blood. A hue & cry is raised. All wake up. Malcolm & Donalbain doesn’t find it safe to stay there.

Thus, Malcolm flees to England & Donalbain to Ireland and the blame is put on them. Macbeth ascends the throne of Scotland. This is the climax of the play

Now Macbeth wants to kill Banquo, as Witches predicted that his children will become king. Macbeth wants to secure the throne for his children & thus desires to get rid of Banquo.

He invites nobles to his castle to celebrate the ceremony. He hires murderers. While Banquo, along with his son, is on the way to castle of Macbeth, murderers attack him & stab him to death.

Fleance escapes to England. Macduff has somehow discovered that Macbeth is the murderer of King Duncan. and does not accept the invitation & flees to England.

While in the ceremony, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his royal chair. He is frightened. This astonishes the nobles. However, Lady Macbeth holds the situation by saying that Macbeth has this disease since his childhood.

But when Macbeth starts shouting at the ghost of Banquo, the situation grows tense. Lady Macbeth requests the nobles to go back. Thus she saves the secret from being disclosed.

As the task of killing the son of Banquo is still incomplete, Macbeth decides to revisit the witches to ask them about his future. They answer him with the show of apparitions which they raise with their magical powers.

The first apparition warns him to beware of Macduff. The second apparition promises that “none of the women shall harm Macbeth”. The third apparition promises him safely until Birnam Woods shall move to Dunsinane.

Macbeth at once acts upon the advice of witches. As Macduff has not accepted his invitation, he orders the butchering of his family. Before the murderers could reach, a well-wisher of Macduff reach in the palace of Macduff & warms his wife of upcoming danger & runs away. Before she could decide anything, murderers arrive & kill her as well as her children.

Macduff reaches England & meets Malcolm. Malcolm suspects him & tests his loyalty. Ultimately being fully assured of his honesty, Malcolm tells Macduff that the King of England has promised to provide him 10,00 soldiers to fight against Macbeth.

Ross goes to England & meets Macduff. He narrates to him about the butchering of his family by Macbeth. Macduff is shattered, but Malcolm fills in him the zeal to take revenge from Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth is now suffering from spiritual disease. In her sleep she walks here & there, rubbing her hands & saying that the spot of blood is still on her hands. Doctors can’t cure her.

Malcolm, along Macduff, Fleance along with their huge army, invade Scotland. When they reach Birnam Woods, Malcolm orders the soldiers to cut the trees & cover themselves with their branches so that their number could not be known to Macbeth.

Seeing the woods moving, one of the grooms of Macbeth tells him about the incidence. At the same time, Lady Macbeth dies of the spiritual disease. Macbeth is helpless.

But there is still some hope of life in him as he knows that no one born of a woman will kill her. War begins. Macduff appears before Macbeth. Both fight fiercely.

During the fight, Macduff tells Macbeth that he was taken off from her mother’s womb in his pre-natal stage. Macbeth’s last hope also dies. Macduff chops off the head of Macbeth.

Malcolm ascends the throne and peace are restored in Scotland as the traitor dies.