The play opens with three witches making a spell and saying strange words. They seem to speak through riddles.
Macbeth and Banquo are two generals in the army of the Scottish King, Duncan. While they are on their way back from the battlefield, after a victory on the Scottish rebels, they encounter the three witches.
The three Weird Sisters prophesy to Macbeth that he will become Thane of Cawdor and then king, and to Banquo that he will become father of kings
When Macbeth is appointed Thane of Cawdor by the king for his victory on the Scottish rebels, he starts to believe in the witches’ words
He writes to his wife and tells her all the story, she is happy at the news, and when she learns that the King is celebrating Macbeth’s victory in Macbeth’s castle that evening, she starts to think how to kill the king and accelerate the second and more important prophecy.
When Macbeth arrives home his wife tries to convince him to kill the king that night while he is sleeping
During the banquet Macbeth has a vision: he sees a dagger that is pointing to the king’s bedchamber
That was a moonless night. Lady Macbeth prepares some drugged wine for the king’s attendants. It will make them sleep soundly.
Later Macbeth takes the attendants daggers, goes into the king’s bedchamber and kills the king in his sleep.
Macbeth comes out of the king’s bedchamber with the daggers in his hands. His wife reproaches him and orders him to go back into the king’s room and leave the daggers near the king’s attendants.
But Macbeth sees his hands red with the king’s blood. He is too upset and he doesn’t want to go back into that room. So Lady Macbeth takes the daggers from her husband’s hands, goes into the king’s bedchamber, leaves them near the attendants and stains the attendants’ faces and hands with the king’s blood. In this way everybody will think that the attendants killed the king,
After that they draw some water from the well and wash their bloody hands.
The next morning Macduff gets to the castle to wake up the king and finds the king dead. Macbeth soon kills the king’s attendants because it is clear that they are the killers.
Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s two sons, are upset and scared, because they suspect that the person who has killed their father wants to kill them, too. So they decide to leave Scotland: Malcolm flees to England and Donalbain flees to Ireland.
Now Macbeth, who is the murdered king’s cousin, can become King of Scotland, as in the witches’ prophecy.
But he doesn’t want Banquo’s sons to become kings after him, so he pays two hired assassins to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance.
The two killers plot to kill Banquo in an ambush, while Banquo is going hunting with his son. They kill Banquo, but Fleance manages to escape.
During the coronation banquet Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. He gets upset and starts to behave like a madman. All his guests are shocked. So Lady Macbeth says that the king is not well and asks the guests to leave the room, but nobody moves. Now she asks them to leave the room ’regardless of their social rank’ and they finally leave the room.
This scene symbolizes the chaos that is in Scotland, because on the Scottish throne there is a bloody usurper.
Now Macbeth is a usurper, a murderer and a tyrant. He can’t sleep any more because of his guilty conscience, but when he learns that Macduff has escaped to England to join Malcolm who is preparing an army to march against him, he sends soldiers to exterminate all the members of Macduff’s family.
He goes back to the three witches because he wants to be reassured. They say to him some more prophecies: They say that he has to beware of Macduff, that no man born of a woman will harm him, and that he can’t be defeated until Birnam forest marches against the high hill of Dunsinane, where his castle stands.
The English army with Malcolm and Macduff is marching towards Dunsinane.
Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth is a sleepwalker, but the doctor can’t cure her.
While she is walking in her sleep, she goes on trying to clean a blood stain from her hand, but she can’t. She is haunted by remorse. Her guilty conscience is driving her mad …
Everybody leaves Macbeth, and when he learns that she is dead, he just thinks that the end is near for him, too.
The English and Scottish soldiers cut tree branches to hide behind them and advance more quickly towards Macbeth’s castle. ”Macbeth can’t be defeated until Birnam forest marches against the high hill of Dunsinane …”
Macbeth sees ‘Birnam forest’ marching towards Dunsinane and finally understands that the witches have tricked him.
When the soldiers go into Macbeth’s castle nobody faces them. Macbeth appears alone. He says that nobody can harm him: his life is under a spell, he only has to fear a person ‘who isn’t born of a woman’
Macduff wants to fight him in a duel to revenge his family, but Macbeth doesn’t want to fight him because he has already all his family on his conscience. So Macduff reveals that he is the one ‘who wasn’t born of a woman’ Because he was taken out of his mother’s womb with a Caesarian section.
Macbeth understands that all is lost, but accepts to fight his last battle. They fight a long a terrible duel. In the end Macduff manages to kill Macbeth.
The tyrant is beheaded, his bloody head is stuck on a pike and is shown to the soldiers.
Malcolm is crowned as the legitimate king and order is restored all over Scotland.