Macbeth

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Lady Macbeth's husband and a Scottish nobleman, the Thane of Glamis. He is made Thane of Cawdor for his bravery in battle, and becomes King of Scotland by murdering the previous King, Duncan. As Macbeth opens, Macbeth is one of the great noblemen in Scotland: valiant, loyal, and honorable. He's also ambitious, and while this ambition helps to make him the great lord he is, once he hears the weird sisters' prophecy Macbeth becomes so consumed by his desire for power that he becomes a tyrannical and violent monster who ultimately destroys himself. What's perhaps most interesting about Macbeth is that he senses the murder will lead to his own destruction even before he murders Duncan, yet his ambition is so great that he still goes through with it.

Macbeth Quotes in Macbeth

The Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Macbeth or refer to Macbeth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ambition Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Macbeth published in 2003.
Act 1, scene 3 Quotes
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.
Related Characters: Banquo (speaker), Macbeth, Weird Sisters
Page Number: 1.3.135-138
Explanation and Analysis:

Macbeth and Banquo have just learned that Macbeth has become Thane of Cawdor, which confirms the first part of the witches’ prophecy. In response, Banquo notes that the stories told by the witches may be attempts to manipulate Macbeth.

These lines pose an important question about the role of supernatural forces in this tragedy: Are the witches dictating these mens’ destinies or do men maintain the ability to avoid or affect the prophecies being presented? When Banquo says they “win us to our harm,” he contends that the witches are actively exploiting him and Macbeth, yet he also notes that they “tell us truths”—which would seem to imply that nothing they recount is false. The resolution comes in a similarly paradoxical phrase: “Honest trifles” that “betray.” What Banquo means is that aspects of the witches’ prophecies are genuine, but that those components are ultimately insignificant. He believes that these “instruments of darkness” will use the prophecies to gain control over him and Macbeth and then later manipulate them.

Banquo thus argues that he and Macbeth should resist believing the witches too much, even though they have thus far been correct in their prophecies. This belief posits a worldview in which humans can act freely from the influence of supernatural forces—choosing to believe them or not. Macbeth, on the other hand, represents the position that direct adherence to their prophecies will allow him to thwart his fate. Shakespeare thus uses these two characters mixed responses to present two different ways of viewing the supernatural forces in his work: as either maneuvering or merely recounting fate.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Macbeth quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 1, scene 4 Quotes
Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.4.57-58
Explanation and Analysis:

After hearing that Duncan will visit his castle, Macbeth finds himself fantasizing about seizing power for himself. He wishes to obscure these evil thoughts from outside observers.

In these early moments in the play, Macbeth is still uncertain about how or whether to proceed with the murderous impulses that have arisen in him after hearing the witches prophecy. Though he ambitiously hopes to control the throne of Scotland, he also carefully watches these desires and seeks to hide them from others. Saying, “Stars, hide your fires” shows that Macbeth wishes to remain invisible and in complete darkness, such that his “black and deep desires” could not be observed. Metaphors of light and dark pervade this play, and here their meaning remains unclear: Darkness stands for Macbeth’s moral unscrupulousness, but “light” is not quite the inverse of ethical goodness. Rather, “light” is represented as an active agent that can “see” into those desires; it stands for a supernatural or even holy force that scrutinizes man’s actions.

Macbeth, then, seems to believe in the existence of a God-like figure who judges him for his thoughts, and from whom he wishes to hide. His concern is less that other human beings will spy his desires and more that it will be observed by supernatural forces—a point that confirms his allegiance to the witches’ paranormal tendencies. Within this short image then, we have the underpinnings of Macbeth’s striking guilt complex and the implication of a corresponding spiritual system, though the exact nature of that spirituality remains unclear.

Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
Look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under it.
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth
Page Number: 1.5.76-77
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth entreats her husband to kill Duncan that night. She recommends he act secretively and strike out violently.

These lines return the text to the theme of appearance versus reality. While Macbeth still remains uncertain about whether he wishes to deceive and kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth is fully committed to the cruel idea. She thus sees duplicity as the best route to achieving her evil ends. She contrasts a passive image of “innocent flower” with the active corruption of “the serpent,” much like the witches mixed up “fair” and “foul” in the tragedy’s opening scene. For her, however, this distinction does not express a general predicament, but rather becomes a specific strategy to gain political power.

Referencing a serpent is also an allusion to the Biblical scene in the Garden of Eden, in which a snake tempts Eve and leads to humanity's expulsion from paradise. This Christian reference is especially evocative considering Lady Macbeth’s engagement with supernatural paganism: just as she has summoned the aid of fiends, Lady Macbeth symbolically asks her husband to strike out against Christian ideals—to play the role of a Biblical villain.

Act 1, scene 7 Quotes
I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.25-28
Explanation and Analysis:

Macbeth ponders whether he should follow through on his plan to kill Duncan. He observes that he is being motivated by aspirations for power rather than responding to a specific injustice.

Shakespeare here makes a subtle point about two different reasons why one would be impelled act. The first is to have a “spur” or clear impetus for doing something, while the second is a more general “vaulting ambition.” By describing the spur as something that can “prick the sides,” Macbeth stresses how it is a narrow and specific stimulus; as a result it has a direct causal effect on his “intent.” Ambition, on the other hand, tends to “o’erleap[] itself,” meaning that it encourages one to act beyond his or her reasonable means. It overshoots a goal and as a result can have negative consequences.

What is intriguing about this passage is that Macbeth seems keenly aware of his motivations and limitations. Though he may be acting out of “vaulting ambition,” he is not immediately convinced by that desire. He can critically assess what stimulates him to act, and its likely consequences. Yet, at the same, time he will ultimately ignore this skepticism and indeed "o'erleap" himself.  Shakespeare thus gives a complex presentation of human psychology, in which people may introspectively note the flaws of their motivations, while still falling prey to those very flaws.

I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more, is none.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.51-52
Explanation and Analysis:

Having decided moments earlier against murdering Duncan, Macbeth finds his manhood challenged by his wife. In response, he argues that composure and allegiance are more characteristic of masculinity than rash violence.

His claim is made through somewhat indirect language. Using the term “dare” presents manhood as adventurous, even though Macbeth defines it through inaction rather than action. For he will only perform actions that “become a man”—a pun on “become” as meaning both to make one seem agreeable and to turn into. If one does “more,” Macbeth reasons, he would not be a man, for he would have overstepped the boundaries of behaviors that define men and that make them attractive or worthy. In this way, Macbeth describes manhood as a limit on his actions instead of a justification for more action like Lady Macbeth.

This passage returns to the theme of gender identities. Recall that Lady Macbeth renounced her womanhood earlier in Act 1, Scene 5 in order to disavow empathy and heartlessly pursue her goal of power. Yet in the lines after Macbeth's quote here, she asks Macbeth to do just the opposite with his gender: to maintain and embrace it. This contrast shows that she sees manhood as equivalent to brute and rash action, whereas before that cruelty seemed to stem only from the supernatural or inhuman realm. Macbeth, however, unseats her opinion by defining manhood in terms of composure and calm intent. Shakespeare thus places the question of gender identity at the heart of this tragedy, presenting it as an ideological tool used by the characters to encourage each other to act more or less aggressively.

Macbeth: If we should fail.
Lady Macbeth: We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker), Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.68-71
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth continues to convince Macbeth that they should kill Duncan. When he wonders whether they will actually succeed, she argues that with sufficient fortitude they will certainly triumph.

The first two lines in this passage are halting and uncertain. Macbeth begins a hypothetical clause—“If we should fail”—but does not successfully finish it; while Lady Macbeth offers the similarly half-formed question “We fail?” In contrast to these fragmented construction, she opts for an aggressive command—“screw your courage”—and acerbic claim: “we’ll not fail.” Bravery and adherence to one’s goals, in her opinion, will ensure success.

Their exchange insinuates two diverging views on human destiny: Whereas Macbeth attributes success to the whims of fates and prophecies, Lady Macbeth believes that humans themselves can select their own destiny. Her command “screw your courage to the sticking-place” implies that sufficient bravery will ensure success regardless of any external influence. Between these two characters, then, Shakespeare defines a spectrum of human relationships to destiny and personal agency—in which some attribute success to personal prowess while others see it as being out of one’s own hands.

Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Visions and Hallucinations
Page Number: 2.1.44-53
Explanation and Analysis:

After discussing the witches with Banquo, Macbeth is left alone to contemplate his impending murder. He then sees a dagger in the air and wonders to what extent it is real or hallucinated.

A primarily psychological analysis would see in these lines the first signs of Macbeth’s insanity. His inability to distinguish between a physical and imaginary dagger does not prevent him from hoping to “clutch” either one. When he can't clutch it, he notes that it is impossible to “have” the vision and yet that he can still “see” it, and is confused why his sense of touch and vision seem to inexplicably not accord. Characteristically, Macbeth remains acutely aware of the conditions of his sanity, observing that his “heat-oppressed brain” may be responsible for creating the illusion. Yet after noting how his mind may be addled, he once more reiterates the “palpable” quality of the dagger, comparing it to his own physical sword.

Beyond introducing the idea that Macbeth may be acting out of madness, this passage develops the theme of appearance versus reality. Macbeth may be fixating on a false vision, but the vision actually reveals to him a truth—for it is a portent of the murder to come. In a sense, then, the “foul” vision is actually “fair” in that it is an accurate representation of reality. And when Macbeth does “draw” his own sword, he implies that even a hallucination may have a causal effect on his own actions. Shakespeare thus presents false visions not as figments of the imagination but as capable of inducing changes to reality itself.

Act 2, scene 2 Quotes
Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep, — the innocent sleep;
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sleep
Page Number: 2.2.47-52
Explanation and Analysis:

After murdering Duncan, Macbeth begins to feel remorse for what he has done. He fixates on a voice he claims to have overheard during the act, believing that it charges him with deep guilt.

We see here Macbeth’s continued descent into the paranoid thinking characteristic of a murderer. His previous visual hallucinations are now accompanied by auditory ones, but instead of rationally ignoring them, he ruminates on how the illusion relates to his experience. Taking the line “Sleep no more!” Macbeth at first indicates a belief that it refers to Duncan whom he has murdered, that the words charge him with having killed a defenseless person while they were in “innocent sleep.”

The text could easily have halted here, but the truly manic thinking comes in the ensuing images. Macbeth begins to focus obsessively on the abstract idea of sleep. He imagines it to be a weaver who “knits up” or makes coherent and composed “the ravell’d sleave of care”—in which a “ravell’d sleave” is a messy and disorganized garment. This metaphor presents sleep as a tranquil and organizing force that helps a person make coherent the chaos of life, that allows people to be coherent and calm. In the following lines, he casts sleep as the inverse or double to different types of daytime: the “death” after each “life”; the restful “bath” after one works; the “balm” to ease minds that may be overworked; a second sustenance after the meal of the day. These evocative images show how deeply Macbeth believes to have violated human life—for not only has he murdered Duncan but he has done so in an almost sacred space of sleeping rejuvenation. As Macbeth's obsessive thoughts on sleep proceed, an intimation exists too that “Sleep no more!” refers to the rampant guilt and madness that will descend now on Macbeth and his wife, in which because of their guilt, they will lose these healthful and necessary effects of sleep.

Act 3, scene 4 Quotes
I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.4.168-170
Explanation and Analysis:

After seeing Banquo’s ghost, Macbeth decides to return to consult the witches on his fate. He points out to his wife that he has pursued his murderous destiny too far to stop doing so now.

When Macbeth says, “I am in blood” he presents himself as entirely immersed in murder: Instead of causing blood to simply flow from others, he also feels the effects of that violent action – the blood he has spilled surrounds him. He then clarifies that this is the result of having “Stepp’d in so far” into the metaphorical bloody pool; while “wade no more” signifies that he cannot stay afloat but will drown in the liquid. Thus Macbeth uses the metaphor of a pool of blood to articulate his own guilt and culpability: He believes that what he has done has inescapably sealed his fate and that trying to shift destinies at this point is pointless.

His choice of the word “tedious,” however, complicates the passage somewhat. Instead of saying that “returning” is impossible or undesirable, he claims it is boring or insipid. This distinction seems to indicate that Macbeth could indeed change his bloody behavior and that he fails to do so simply out of apathy or inertia. In this way, he presents a somewhat more ambivalent version of fate’s determinism: Destiny may very well have dictated his actions, but he could potentially shift them if he were more courageous.

Act 4, scene 1 Quotes
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Related Characters: Weird Sisters (speaker), Macbeth
Page Number: 4.1.44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

The witches prepare for Macbeth’s arrival by mixing an unnatural brew in the cauldron. During their incantation, one makes this pronouncement on impending evil.

These lines firstly verify the supernatural powers of the witches. They are able to sense from physical stimuli—“the pricking”—in their bodies that something “wicked” will take place in the future. Although the audience might be skeptical of the actual mystical powers the witches possess, this image confirms that they have at least a limited capacity to make sense of the future.

At the same time, by describing the wicked phenomenon as a separate external force — the phrasing of “this way comes” is a passive construction — the witches also present themselves as observers of fate, rather than active agents that bring certain events to pass. So while other human characters may see the witches as manipulative spirits willing bad events into existence, their actual incantations show them to be mere bystanders and oracles for fate. The witches comment describes Macbeth as the wicked one, implying that while their prophecy may have been accurate, it was Macbeth's wickedness that caused him to pursue it as he did (or perhaps that his choice to pursue it as he did has made him wicked).

Act 5, scene 5 Quotes
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 5.5.22-31
Explanation and Analysis:

As the final battle against Macduff's army approaches, Macbeth gives this moving soliloquy. He claims that life is an endless repetition and inherently meaningless.

To arrive at this nihilistic conclusion, Macbeth first ponders the succession of day after day. He notes how monotonous they are—a series of “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”—to the extent that life never seems to significantly shift. If the future holds nothing novel, the past is similarly devoid of meaning—only ever bringing indications of “dusty death” to come. Instead of hoping to grasp closely life’s fleeting existence, however, Macbeth commands it to depart as rapidly as possible with the phrase “Out, out, brief candle!” His ambitious and cruel nature has thus culminated in a complete rejection of the significance to life itself: at the apex of his success, life has become to him nothing but a series of haphazard noises and commotions with no underlying meaning.

Shakespeare brilliantly links this general pronouncement to the more specific case of reading and analyzing literature. Alliterating “petty pace” and repeating “day to day” reiterates how repeating patterns appear in language as well as in time; casting time to be made of “syllables” presents it as a construction of language. Presenting humans as “a poor player” and his environment as “the stage” similarly makes the experience of theater a metaphor for one’s life in the world. Macbeth’s “tale” becomes a symbol for the larger tale of human experience. Shakespeare makes a castigating self allusion with the phrase “told by an idiot,” which shows that he has no greater access to truth or meaning than any of his readers. His text itself resists pure comprehension in that it is “sound and fury” alone—“signifying nothing” because no single meaning can be attributed to its characters or constructions. In this way, Shakespeare presents the finitude and emptiness of Macbeth’s experience and the void of his language as a layered metaphor for each human’s eventual demise.

Get the entire Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Macbeth.pdf.medium

Macbeth Character Timeline in Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Macbeth appears in Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Fate Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...meet again on the heath (plain) when the battle now raging ends. There they'll meet Macbeth. (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Violence Theme Icon
...Scottish rebels Macdonald and the Thane of Cawdor. Two Scottish nobleman have been especially brave, Macbeth (the Thane of Glamis) and Banquo. Macbeth killed Macdonald ("unseemed him from the nave to... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
The Thane of Ross arrives, and describes how Macbeth defeated Sweno, the Norwegian King, who now begs for a truce. Duncan proclaims that the... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
Fate Theme Icon
Macbeth and Banquo enter. The witches hail Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Macbeth asks how the witches know this information. But the witches vanish, making the two men... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth and Banquo are shocked. Macbeth asks Banquo if he now thinks that his children will... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
As Banquo talks with Ross and Angus, Macbeth ponders the prophecy. If it's evil, why would it truly predict his being made Thane... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Ross and Angus think Macbeth's reverie is caused by becoming Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth and Banquo agree to speak about... (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...being executed. Duncan notes that you can't always trust a man by his outward show. Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus enter. Duncan says that even the gift of Cawdor is not... (full context)
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...that time). Duncan then adjourns the meeting and decides to spend the night at Inverness, Macbeth's castle. (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth goes ahead to prepare for the King's visit, but notes that Malcolm now stands between... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
At Inverness, Lady Macbeth reads a letter in which Macbeth tells her of the witches' prophecy. Lady Macbeth worries... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
A servant enters with news that Duncan will spend the night, then exits. Lady Macbeth says Duncan's visit will be fatal, and calls on spirits to "unsex me here… and... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth enters, and says Duncan will spend the night and leave the next day. Lady Macbeth... (full context)
Act 1, scene 6
Manhood Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth warmly greets the King and the thanes, though Macbeth is nowhere to be seen. (full context)
Act 1, scene 7
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Macbeth, alone, agonizes about whether to kill Duncan. He'd be willing to murder Duncan if he... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth enters, asking where he's been. Macbeth tells her they won't murder Duncan. She questions his... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth asks what will happen if they fail. Lady Macbeth assures him they won't fail if... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth enters. Banquo tells Macbeth his sleep has been troubled by dreams of the weird sisters.... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Banquo says he'll be receptive to what Macbeth has to say provided he loses no honor in seeking to gain more. Banquo and... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Alone, Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air. He can't grasp it, and can't decide... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Offstage, Lady Macbeth rings the bell to signal that Duncan's attendants are asleep. Macbeth goes to murder Duncan. (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Violence Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth waits in agitation for Macbeth to do the deed. She comments that had the sleeping... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth enters. He's killed Duncan and Duncan's attendants. His hands are bloodstained and he's upset that... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth soothes him and tells him to wash his hands, but notices he's still carrying the... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
A knock sounds, terrifying Macbeth. He worries that not all the water in the world could wash the blood from... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth returns, her hands now as bloody as Macbeth's. But she's calm, and identifies the 'mysterious'... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Macbeth wishes that the knocking could wake Duncan. (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth enters, pretending to have just woken up. Macduff asks if the King has woken yet:... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macduff cries out in horror and runs onstage. Macbeth and Lennox ask what happened, then run to Duncan's chamber. Banquo, Malcolm, and Donalbain wake.... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth wishes aloud that he hadn't killed the attendants. When Macduff asks why Macbeth did kill... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macduff then says Macbeth has been made king, and that he has already gone to Scone for the coronation.... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
In the royal palace of Forres, Banquo states his suspicion that Macbeth fulfilled the witches' prophecy by foul play. But he notes that since the prophecy came... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth enters, with other thanes and Lady Macbeth. He asks Banquo to attend a feast that... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
The two men (identified in the stage directions as "murderers") enter. Macbeth tells them it's Banquo's fault they're poor, then questions their manhood for bearing such offenses.... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
After sending a servant to fetch Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, waits, and muses that she has what she desires but isn't happy. (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth enters. She asks why he spends so much time alone. Macbeth responds: "We have scorched... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth reminds him to be "bright and jovial" at the feast. Macbeth tells her to act... (full context)
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Macbeth says that before the night is through there shall be a "deed of dreadful note"... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Violence Theme Icon
...in wait a mile from the royal castle. A third murderer joins them, sent by Macbeth. (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...attack. Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes. The murderers return to the castle to tell Macbeth what's happened. (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth bids all the lords welcome to the feast. Just at that moment, he notices that... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth calls to Macbeth and asks him to return to the feast and sit. But Macbeth... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth tells the thanes not to worry, that since childhood Macbeth has suffered fits. She pulls... (full context)
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
The ghost reappears and Macbeth, terrified, starts shouting at it. Lady Macbeth tries to play down her husband's strange behavior.... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth: "Blood will have blood" (3.4.121), and asks what Lady Macbeth makes of... (full context)
Act 3, scene 5
Fate Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...sisters meet with Hecate, the goddess of witches. She rebukes the sisters for meddling with Macbeth without first consulting her. But she says she'll help them when Macbeth comes to see... (full context)
Act 3, scene 6
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Lennox and another lord talk sarcastically about Macbeth and the too great similarities between the murders of Duncan and Banquo, with Donalbain and... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...the English King Edward and his lords to gather an army to help them defeat Macbeth. The rumor is that Macbeth sent a messenger to Macduff. Macduff rebuffed the messenger, who... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...safe and soon returns with the armies of Malcolm and England to free Scotland from Macbeth. (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...and all dance and sing. One witch cries out "Something wicked this way comes" (4.1.62): Macbeth enters. He commands the witches to answer his questions. (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
The witches conjure up three apparitions. First, a floating head appears and tells Macbeth to beware Macduff. (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...bloody child appears. The child says that "no man of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth" (4.1.95-96). (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Finally, a child wearing a crown and holding a tree appears. It says that Macbeth will not be defeated until Great Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane Hill. Macbeth is pleased:... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macbeth wants to know one more thing: will Banquo's heirs have the throne? The witches perform... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Lennox enters. He brings word that Macduff has fled to England. In an aside, Macbeth scolds himself for failing to kill Macduff when he wanted to earlier. He vows in... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
Manhood Theme Icon
...near the palace of King Edward, Macduff urges Malcolm to quickly raise an army against Macbeth. But Malcolm says Macduff might actually be working for Macbeth, a suspicion heightened by the... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Malcolm then adds that he delays attacking Macbeth because he fears that he himself would perhaps be even a worse ruler. Malcolm describes... (full context)
Manhood Theme Icon
...that if he invaded the Scottish people would line up to join his army against Macbeth. Finally, Ross tells Macduff his family has been murdered. Macduff cries out in anguish. Malcolm... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
It is night in Macbeth's castle of Dunsinane. A doctor and a gentlewoman wait. The gentlewoman called the doctor because... (full context)
Violence Theme Icon
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Lady Macbeth enters, holding a candle, but asleep. Lady Macbeth keeps rubbing her hands as if to... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The horrified doctor and gentlewoman watch as Lady Macbeth then relives conversations with Macbeth after the murder of Banquo and hears an imaginary knocking... (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
Fate Theme Icon
...Scottish lords and soldiers discuss the situation: Malcolm and his army are at Birnam Wood. Macbeth, in a constant rage verging on madness, is fortifying the stronghold of Dunsinane. (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The lords agree that Macbeth is tormented by his terrible actions, and that those who follow him do so out... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth dismisses all reports about Malcolm's army, saying he'll fear nothing until Birnam Wood marches to... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
He asks the doctor about Lady Macbeth, then commands that the man cure her. In an aside, the doctor says that if... (full context)
Act 5, scene 5
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth laughs at the coming army, but seems bored by his lack of fear. Suddenly, a... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
A servant rushes in with news that Birnam Wood is marching toward Dunsinane. Macbeth rushes to see for himself, and realizes the witches tricked him. He feels fear for... (full context)
Act 5, scene 7
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
In the fighting, Macbeth encounters and fights Young Siward. Though Young Siward is brave, Macbeth quickly kills him and... (full context)
Act 5, scene 8
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Macduff searches for Macbeth, vowing to kill him to avenge his family. (full context)
Act 5, scene 9
Ambition Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Malcolm and Siward meet. They have easily captured the castle because Macbeth's men barely fight back. (full context)
Act 5, scene 10
Violence Theme Icon
Macbeth and Macduff meet. Macbeth says he has avoided fighting Macduff because he has too much... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
They fight. Macbeth mocks Macduff, saying his effort is wasted: no one of woman born can beat Macbeth.... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Macbeth, suddenly fearful now that the prophecy has turned against him, refuses to fight him. But... (full context)
Act 5, scene 11
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
Macduff enters, carrying Macbeth's severed head. He proclaims Malcolm to be King of Scotland and swears his loyalty. (full context)
Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...(a higher rank). He pledges to "plant" a new peace, and to heal the wounds Macbeth and his "fiend-like queen" (5.11.35) inflicted on Scotland. (full context)