A line-by-line translation

Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Table of Contents

One of the witches in Macbeth foretells evil in the famous line, “By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes.” Macbeth, known as Shakespeare's “Scottish Play," weaves a tale of murder, treachery, and madness, as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plot to kill King Duncan after Macbeth hears the witches’ prophecy about his impending kingship. The couple resort to murder to cling to power, but a movement of resistance championed by Duncan’s sons Donalbain and Malcolm, and the wronged warrior Macduff, threatens to topple their rule. Meanwhile, the Macbeths’ interior sense of guilt leads to madness and depression. The Shakescleare modern English translation makes every line of the play easy to understand and appreciate, including famous lines like “Is this a dagger I see before me?” and “Life’s but a walking shadow."

Act 1, Scene 1

The three witches gather and make plans to meet with Macbeth.

Act 1, Scene 2

Norway has invaded Scotland. Macbeth and Banquo have skillfully won a battle. The Thane of Cawdor has been shamed.

Act 1, Scene 3

The witches surprise Macbeth and Banquo and deliver their prophecy--part of which is immediately proven true.

Act 1, Scene 4

Duncan thanks Macbeth and Banquo, declares Malcolm as his heir, and says that he will visit Macbeth's castle.

Act 1, Scene 5

Lady Macbeth hears about Macbeth's victories, the witches' prophecies, and Duncan's visit. She plots Duncan's death.

Act 1, Scene 6

Lady Macbeth welcomes Duncan to her and Macbeth's castle.

Act 1, Scene 7

Macbeth feels unsure about murdering Duncan. Lady Macbeth urges him on, saying they should blame it on the guards.

Act 2, Scene 1

Macbeth meets Banquo, who says how pleased Duncan has been with Macbeth's hospitality.

Act 2, Scene 2

Macbeth has killed Duncan. Lady Macbeth takes the murder weapons from him and places them in Duncan's room.

Act 2, Scene 3

Macduff comes to escort the king, but discovers his murder. Macbeth kills the framed guards. Donalbain and Malcolm flee.

Act 2, Scene 4

Macduff tells Ross that Duncan's sons seem guilty of his murder because they have fled. Macbeth will take the throne.

Act 3, Scene 1

Macbeth is king, but fears the witches' prophecy about Banquo. Macbeth hires assassins to kill Banquo and Fleance.

Act 3, Scene 2

Banquo and Fleance unwittingly head into Macbeth's trap. Macbeth worries, but becomes assured that Banquo can be killed.

Act 3, Scene 3

The murderers ambush Banquo and Fleance, but only manage to kill Banquo. Fleance survives, fleeing in the darkness.

Act 3, Scene 4

The Scottish nobles have a feast. One of the murderers informs Macbeth of Banquo's fate. Banquo's ghost haunts Macbeth.

Act 3, Scene 5

Hecate scolds the witches for not involving her in their trickery. She plans to lead Macbeth to his destruction.

Act 3, Scene 6

Lennox and a lord discuss how Malcolm has fled to the English court. Macduff refuses to respond to Macbeth.

Act 4, Scene 1

Macbeth visits the witches again and hears prophecies from three apparitions. Macbeth learns that Macduff has fled.

Act 4, Scene 2

Lady Macduff learns that her husband has fled. Murderers come and kill her child in front of her. They chase her.

Act 4, Scene 3

Macduff tries to bring Malcolm back to Scotland. Ross tells Macduff that every member of his household has been killed.

Act 5, Scene 1

A doctor has been sent for to see Lady Macbeth. Her guilty conscience causes her to sleepwalk and talk in her sleep.

Act 5, Scene 2

The exiled Scottish lords march toward Macbeth's castle, which he is fortifying, and prepare for war.

Act 5, Scene 3

Macbeth hears that the English army is approaching, and prepares for war. He asks the doctor how Lady Macbeth is doing.

Act 5, Scene 4

Malcolm's faction approaches Macbeth's castle. Malcolm tells his soldiers to carry branches, fulfilling the prophecy.

Act 5, Scene 5

Macbeth prepares for the siege. He learns that Lady Macbeth has died, and hears that the forest seems to be moving.

Act 5, Scene 6

Malcolm commands his soldiers to attack.

Act 5, Scene 7

Macbeth cannot escape the castle. Macbeth fights and kills Young Siward. Macduff chases after Macbeth.

Act 5, Scene 8

Macbeth fights Macduff. Macbeth is killed and beheaded. Malcolm is proclaimed King of Scotland.
Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.